Wrigley Renovations: Neighbors Weigh In On Night Games

Jonathan Daniel

Discussions are ongoing about various parts of the Cubs' Wrigley renovation proposal. The current hot topic: night games.

It's always something.

The Cubs issued a detailed proposal last week that they said put forth everything they wanted, and in chairman Tom Ricketts' news conference, it was intimated that they expect to get more or less everything that was in that proposal.

Not so fast, says one Wrigleyville community leader:

Jill Peters, President of the Southport Neighbors Association, demanded sweeping changes as the Cubs prepared to show their hand on one of the most controversial elements of the team’s $5OO million plan to renovate 99-year-old Wrigley and the land around it: stadium signage.

After a Monday night meeting between the Cubs and Southport Neighbors, Peters is demanding no more than 37 "night events"-per-season, including concerts, 3:O5 p.m. game starts and regular night games.

"Night games create excessive drinking, damage to property, crowd issues and other crimes. We’ve had robberies, shootings and home invasions. We want them to keep the promise they made and hold to what the Lakeview Citizens Council recommended: No more than 37 night events with everything included," Peters said, demanding 5O more post-game security personnel outside the ballpark, up from the Cubs’ plan for 3O.

The word "demand" is fraught with certain connotations; I'd like to think all of this is more of a negotiation between the parties involved, not people making "demands". Peters made several claims in that quote that might be true -- I can't say specifically, because I have no personal experience with any of this, but as someone who attends every game at Wrigley Field, my personal experience is that there seems to be far less trouble now than there was a decade ago. "Crowd issues"? Well, there are going to be crowds at baseball games. It's inevitable. And there was a shooting right across the street from Wrigley Field (in fact, right in front of the 7-11 store) early Sunday morning -- when the Cubs were out of town. To blame the Cubs for all the problems of a busy city neighborhood is pretty disingenuous.

The Cubs, as noted, have proposed to pay for more postgame security personnel (presumably, Chicago police) after games. I'm not sure what putting 20 more of those people on top of the 30 additional already proposed will accomplish.

The number of night games is something that very well might be a negotiating point, something the Cubs might give a little on, in order to get something they want more. Remember, it's not ticket sales that drive the number of night games -- it's television ad revenue, which sells for more at night than during the afternoon. Cubs spokesman Julian Green was quoted in the link above:

As for 3:O5 p.m. starts, Green said the Cubs had them before and need them again to attract fans who like working half-days during the summer.

"It would significantly increase our sales on those Friday games," he said, noting that the Cubs’ plan addresses traffic, parking and public safety concerns.

I wonder about that. The Cubs have had 3:05 starts on Friday before -- but not for at least a decade; later Friday starts were eliminated in 2002 when the original night-game ordinance was revised to provide the Cubs with 30 night dates as opposed to the original 18. You see? That's a compromise. I'm thinking there has to be a lot more of that from all parties to the Wrigley renovation discussion, not just "demands."

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