Wrigley Renovations: Now, Night Games An Issue

Jonathan Daniel

As if 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney hasn't been enough of a pain in the side of the Cubs during negotiations about renovations, now he's complaining about more night games. Read on, dear reader, for the latest.

You know, the Wrigley Field renovation deal should have been done a month ago. It's 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney who has held up things, first, by doing the bidding of people who are reportedly among his top campaign contributors, and now, by complaining about a Cubs request for more night games. Here are the details:

The city had agreed to increase the number of night games from 3O to 4O, plus allow the team to host up to 4 concerts, for a total of 44 "night events." But at Tuesday night’s meeting, according to two sources, the Cubs officials asked for flexibility in the cap of 44 night events to accommodate changes to the schedule requested by Major League Baseball and its television broadcast partners. During the season, MLB asks teams to change a day game to a night game to feature a matchup that might attract higher ratings.

Cubs officials told residents that MLB could switch as many as six games and they don’t want those games to count against the cap.

"So here we have an agreement for additional games, but then it’s going to be watered down," Tunney said. "So we’ve got to pin them down as to what they really want."

Let me do the math here for Ald. Tunney. There are 365 nights in a year (366 in leap years). The Cubs have asked for 10 more night games, plus four concert nights a year. That's 14 more dates -- two weeks' worth -- out of a 52-week year that has included 18 night games since 1989, and 30 night games since 2002.

Now this is going to be held up because of six more dates? Which might not even come to pass? The way I read that, Major League Baseball and its TV partners (likely ESPN and MLB Network, in this case, possibly Fox) might ask for "as many" as six games to be changed.

Let me spell it out again for Ald. Tunney. I noted in the recap to Tuesday night's game that the Cubs had gone over .500 in all-time night games, 255-254. That means there have been, through Tuesday, 509 nights over the last 25 years in which a baseball game has been played in Tunney's ward. For the most part, problems that occurred in the early years have gone away. Traffic is manageable; police protection has been pretty good (and the Cubs have offered to help defray the cost of extra police protection), and in general, I believe the Cubs have been a good neighbor.

Six extra nights. So we're talking a maximum total of 50 nights a year -- possibly up to 11 more if the Cubs ever make it all the way through a World Series.

50 nights, or 61 in a championship year. That still leaves over 300 nights a year with no baseball game going on at Wrigley Field. No one who lives near Wrigley Field can be surprised any more that there's night baseball going on there. It's been fact for a quarter-century.

Stop whining, Ald. Tunney. Let this deal get done.

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