NEAR WEST SIDE — Hours before the Cubs were to take the field for their 2016 home opener, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he disagrees with proposals to close streets near Wrigley Field on game days.
Emanuel said he would prefer streets like Clark Street and Addison Street remain open to car and bus traffic on game days, and said his office has been working with the Cubs and Major League Baseball to strengthen security measures at the ballpark.
The idea of shutting down streets near Wrigley Field was most recently touted by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5th), who said the historic ballpark is a prime target for an attack in his North Side district.
Emanuel, though, disagreed.
"I don't think they should," Emanuel said. "We are working with the Cubs, with MLB" to address safety concerns.
Major League Baseball has suggested to teams that they secure a 100-foot perimeter around stadiums during games. The Cubs have publicly supported the idea, with a spokesman in January saying cars on Clark that come as close as 10 feet to the ballpark walls are a "huge concern."
Emanuel's administration has consistently refuted that streets need to be clear of traffic to secure Wrigley.
"Public safety is everyone’s top concern and, as is the case every year, we have been in continuous communication with Cubs in the lead up to opening day," mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said previously. "Our discussions have been very productive and we feel confident about our plans for the season."
Wrigley Field has installed metal detectors and other measures to strengthen security for the season.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts appeared on WBEZ radio Monday morning and said his focus is on the long-term redevelopment of Wrigley and the surrounding area.
"We want to change the vibe around there on non-game days," Ricketts said. "It's a great neighborhood and a lovely place to live, but on non-gamedays — especially in the winter, and especially north of Addison — there's not a lot going on, and we see a lot of opportunity for things to improve upon.
"Whether it's a ice rink or a farmer's market or maybe a low-tech concert, it's on us to find out," Ricketts said. "It's up to us to get the right mix of food and beverage options there."
Emanuel, speaking at Whitney Young High School Monday morning, said he is excited for the season. He did not indicate if he would be at Wrigley Field for the home opener.
"People are going to see a great game," he said.
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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