WRIGLEYVILLE — With the allowed uses of Wrigley Field's Clark Street plaza still under debate, the Chicago Cubs said Thursday the triangle plot would not be in use until after the 2016 season.
"The plaza is not going to be completed before the end of the baseball season, so if anything were to happen at all, it would be after that," said Mike Lufrano, Cubs vice president of community affairs.
And as the talks continue, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) pledged that he would keep the neighborhood from becoming "Rickettsville," a reference to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.
"To me, your investment is just as important to me as the billionaire investment," Tunney said. "I'm doing my darndest to make sure we balance the interests of the community with the Cubs."
Ricketts was not at the meeting.
Tunney, Cubs officials, police and city department representatives met with neighbors Thursday, one month before Opening Day. In the second year of Wrigley Field renovations, residents pressed for safety details, better parking enforcement and adequate noise control.
The number of events with amplified sound could climb with the possibility of plaza concerts in addition to sold-out concerts in the ballpark.
The Cubs, neighborhood leaders and city officials continue to hash out details of an ordinance controlling plaza programming and usage. Neighbors are focused on limiting amplified sound and "large congregations of beer-drinking," the alderman said Thursday.
"We already have plenty of that, at least in the eyes of some of the neighbors," he said.
Tunney expressed dissatisfaction with this year's increase in concerts at Wrigley Field. As opposed to four shows — the limit imposed during a trial period of allowing the club to book concerts without neighborhood approval — this year, Wrigley Field will have five acts perform seven concerts between June 25 and Aug. 27.
"I don't like the idea of having a baseball season and a concert season," Tunney said. "The concerts were a nonexistent point until we started the idea of experimenting. I don't want to get into the vernacular that this is a concert venue."
On Thursday, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the club planned to finish the plaza in 2016, but confirmed it would likely not be until the end of the season. In November, Lufrano said it was possible the plaza could open "around the All-Star break midsummer," but acknowledged "that could slip a little bit."
Wrigley Field, pictured in late February, is missing its signature marquee and most of its facade as renovations continue in the Cubs offseason. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Still, fans will see a different friendly confines come April 11, including metal detectors in place at all entrances on Opening Day. There will also be a new clubhouse for players below the plaza.
The Wrigleyville backdrop will also look a little different, with the McDonald's at the northwest corner of Clark and Addison soon to be demolished and construction starting on the hotel planned for the site.
And although the nearby Addison Park on Clark project, at the southeast corner of Clark and Addison, is tied up in a foreclosure lawsuit, Tunney said he expects "significant activity" to begin soon with the demolition of 7-Eleven and the now-empty Starbucks.
In addition, the Cubs will seek to extend the sidewalk next to Wrigley Field on the north side of Addison Street. Extending the walkway 4 feet would still allow traffic in both directions on Addison, but relieve some of the crowding caused by the narrow path.
However, it will be up to the Chicago Department of Transportation to determine whether the change is necessary. Tunney also said the city was considering putting bollards up to protect pedestrians on the way.
Along with the return of Wrigley Field's historic red marquee, which underwent restoration over the winter, Opening Day will mark the completion of the clubhouse, Budweiser bleacher bar and elevator. Two bathroom expansions also will roll out, which hopefully will curtail long bathroom lines.
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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