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Cubs Blast Tunney's Limits On Booze For Plaza As A 'Clear' Step Backward

By Ariel Cheung | May 18, 2016 5:40pm | Updated on May 24, 2016 10:39am
 The second year of construction at Wrigley Field includes major work on the plaza and 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 office building that will have first floor retail and dining.
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CHICAGO — Refusing to extend hours for alcohol sales in his updated proposal, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) stood firm Wednesday on the main sticking point over the Chicago Cubs' plan for the Wrigley Field plaza.

Tunney proposed further restrictions on plaza use and alcohol sales and reopened the long-debated night game ordinance to ban Wrigley Field concerts on weeknights between Labor Day and June 15.

Team owners were less than thrilled.

"After two years of discussions ... [Tunney] is changing his mind once again and further restricting the ability to operate a successful plaza to protect the profits of others," Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in an email.

Green said the Wednesday proposal was a "clear" step backward and "not a level playing field" for the Cubs and their neighboring businesses.

But for Tunney, the new proposal "is the latest in a number of entitlements that have been granted to the Cubs in connection with the Wrigley Field renovations."

The latest exchange shows little sign of the "emerging consensus" suggested by Mayor Rahm Emanuel just one day before Tunney presented the new ordinance draft to the City Council.

But Emanuel renewed his pledge to "work through the issue" on Wednesday.

"I believe there will be a way to come to an understanding, as we did on the original master ordinance," Emanuel said. "But they have to be consistent with the wishes of being a good neighbor to the community."

In the new draft, alcohol sales remain limited to the firm 9 p.m. cutoff on weekdays and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tunney also recommended closing the plaza at 10 p.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Construction continued on the Wrigley Field plaza shortly before Opening Day in April. The plaza is expected to be finished in the fall. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

The ordinance would allow alcohol on the plaza only during games, concerts or special events when food service is also available.

The Cubs are allotted eight special events per year for the first two years. Special events — any plaza event with expected daily attendance of approximately 1,000 people — must end at 9 p.m. on weeknights.

The much-touted farmers markets, ice rink and movie nights would not be subject to the special events restriction unless alcohol is served.

But since the Cubs want to sell alcohol during some of those events — it has specifically mentioned family movie nights — the new proposal limits the family-oriented activities meant to turn the plaza into the long-envisioned town square, Green said.

Owners of the Cubs want liquor sales on the plaza to match time limits granted by an outdoor patio liquor license, 11 p.m. and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Anything earlier "is pretty much a non-starter," Green said previously.

Tunney and leaders of four neighborhood organizations argued that with a plaza capacity of up to 6,000 people, the space merits restrictions beyond those of neighborhood bars or outdoor patios.

The plaza can sell alcohol from four fixed points during Cubs games and concerts, and it can be carried between the plaza and the stadium. All alcohol sales must end at the same time between the two, or one hour before the game or concert ends.

During events, only ticket holders will be allowed on the plaza.

The plaza operators must file for a public place of amusement license and create a plan of operation devoted to security plans, restricting hours of operation and providing trash pick-up. If the Cubs violate the plan, the team is subject to a $300-$5,000 fine and license suspension or revocation.


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