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City Asks Cubs To Come Up With Security Plan For New Plaza

By Heather Cherone | June 9, 2017 8:06am | Updated on June 13, 2017 11:56am
 Fans packed the new Park at Wrigley, lining up outside the new western gate to get into the ballpark ahead of Monday's home opener.
Fans packed the new Park at Wrigley, lining up outside the new western gate to get into the ballpark ahead of Monday's home opener.
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DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung

WRIGLEYVILLE — The Chicago Cubs must develop a plan to protect the thousands of fans drawn to Wrigley Field by the new plaza outside the storied ballpark, city officials told team officials Thursday.

In a letter to Crane Kenney, the Cubs president of baseball operations, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, the executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, asked the team to come up with a plan for fans to evacuate the plaza or find shelter in place in the case of an emergency.

"It is of the utmost importance to me to ensure that we are addressing security around Wrigley Field comprehensively and expeditiously," Tate-Nadeau wrote in a letter released Thursday afternoon. "As you continue to invest in upgrading the fan experience inside the stadium, it is our hope that you will also prioritize security investments in the area."

The Cubs and city officials have long been at odds over the plaza, which city law limits to ticket holders on game days and concerts at the ballpark. Cubs officials had hoped to "create a public park open to everyone year-round."

In addition, Tate-Nadeau asked team officials to submit plans to widen the north sidewalk along Addison Street between Clark Street and Sheffield Avenue. The team will be responsible for absorbing the costs of the effort, as well as relocating any city light poles or other utilities, Tate-Nadeau said.

Temporary barriers have widened the sidewalk for the last two years, Tate-Nadeau said.

Tate-Nadeau also criticized team management for not informing city officials about the death of a fan at Wrigley Field.

"In the interest of public safety and the preservation of potential crime scenes/evidence, OEMC requests the organization be required to notify [Chicago Police Department] of any serious injury occurring on their property," Tate-Nadeau wrote. "At the present time, the Cubs are responsible for making the decision about whether the incident is criminal in nature, not the police."

In addition, the city asked the Cubs to:

• Connect all of the cameras surrounding Wrigley Field to the city's system

• Upgrade the radio system used by park security officials to ensure local and federal law enforcement officers can communicate with each other

• Require off-duty Chicago Police officers to wear "an easily recognizable shirt or uniform so they are readily identified as security enforcement."

The request from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration comes in the wake of two terrorist attacks in Britain that increase concerns that large gatherings of people — such as the one that develops outside Wrigley Field on game days — could be targeted.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in a statement  that safety at Wrigley Field is “one of our top priorities.”

"In fact, we’ve asked the city to make it a priority for several years," Green said, renewing the team's request that Addison and Clark be closed on game days to protect fans, a move that Emanuel has resisted.

"The tragic events in Manchester, England, on the heels of the horrific event in Times Square, New York and elsewhere around the world, underscore the need to work together to provide adequate law enforcement," Green said, referencing an incident where a driver who police said was under the influence hit several pedestrians in Times Square, killing one person.

"In contrast to Chicago, the city of Boston, of its own accord and without the Red Sox urging, this year closed streets around historic Fenway Park before, during and after Red Sox games," Green said. "Major League Baseball, the Chicago Tribune, Congressman Quigley and others have joined us in calling for closing the remaining streets around the Friendly Confines."

Instead, the city has closed Addison and Clark only when officials deemed it necessary because of the size of the crowds that gathered June 2-4 to see the Cubs take on their rivals the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by an entity controlled 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.