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'Follow The Same Rules We Do' With Plaza, Wrigleyville Bars Tell Cubs

By Ariel Cheung | January 21, 2016 8:23am
 The second year of construction at Wrigley Field includes major work on the plaza and an office building that will have first floor retail and dining.
The second year of construction at Wrigley Field includes major work on the plaza and an office building that will have first floor retail and dining.
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Provided/Chicago Cubs

WRIGLEYVILLE — With an ordinance on the table, neighbors and business owners want to know what to expect this fall when the Wrigley Field plaza opens.

But details are scarce right now as the Cubs and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) work to hammer out the finer points of the proposed ordinance on plaza operations.

At a crowded meeting of Hawthorne Neighbors Wednesday, some said it was unfair for Wrigley Field to get a pass while bars and restaurants along Clark Street must adhere to strict laws.

Neighbors also asked about increased security plans, whether food would be served on the plaza and the number of special events that will be permitted. But officials said those specific plans had yet to be made.

A plan of operation would address most of those issues, along with outlining penalties for violations, Tunney said.

Tunney said he hoped to finalize the ordinance by spring, since the Cubs hope to implement it in the fall once the plaza is finished. The proposed ordinance outlines the plaza's hours of operation, limits when it can sell alcohol and requires the Cubs to hire additional security and trash pickup for events.

Business owners at the meeting took issue with Wrigley's Captain Morgan Club playing amplified music and hosting live entertainment, taking it as a sign that the ballpark was already given preferential treatment.

"We want them to follow the same rules we follow. If we're not allowed to have speakers and amplified music, the Cubs should not be," said Sam Sanchez, owner of John Barleycorn and Moe's Cantina. "To show good will, they will have to stop that first. That would be a good start."

Tunney said he didn't disagree, and the Cubs offered no response.

Sanchez, who is also the secretary for the Illinois Restaurant Association, said that with separate liquor licenses for the plaza and the ballpark, customers should not be allowed to carry alcohol between the two spaces.

"All we're asking for is an even playing field so we're able to work and have the same opportunities," Sanchez said.

Tunney conceded Sanchez had a "good point," but said the liquor commissioner helped write the ordinance, suggesting there was a way to allow fans to carry alcohol back and forth from the plaza to the stadium.

While the plaza's capacity has not been determined, officials said it would range between 4,000-6,000 people, not counting the multiple restaurants that will open on the first floor of the Cubs' office building on the north end of the plaza. Wrigleyville bars currently have a total capacity around 10,000, meaning the plaza would have a significant impact on the neighborhood when in use, bar owners said.

Tunney asked neighbors to keep in mind that plans were far from finalized.

"This plaza ordinance is a unique animal within the city, and it is still a work in progress," Tunney said Wednesday.

The ordinance does not address special events the Cubs hope to host on the plaza, like a farmers market and winter ice rink. Tunney said a plan of operation would outline those terms.

Fearing the plaza would offer cheap beer to draw customers and threaten their own businesses, bar owners asked that the ordinance prevent the Cubs from charging different prices for beer in Wrigley Field and the plaza.

"I'm a retailer — you know I get it," said Tunney, who owns three Ann Sather restaurants. "We want to make sure we build this as a synergy rather than try to compete with one another."

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.

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