ON THE ROAD IN OKLAHOMA -- Just when you think the negotiations over the proposed restoration of Wrigley Field couldn't get any weirder, along comes 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney with this proposal; I can't describe it as anything but bizarre. (Well, I could, but you get the idea. This was fanshotted Wednesday, but I thought it deserved front-page treatment.)
Tunney today noted the team owns a gravel lot near Clark and Grace streets, and said the Ricketts family could build a multi-level garage there to hold hundreds of cars. "They have a big lot, a cemetery lot, that if you look at Google is as big as the stadium," Tunney said. "Can they build on that?" "Building is expensive, I understand that, but it's also part of the neighborhood concerns," he added. "They're exploring all their options here," Tunney said when asked if Cubs officials are amenable to building a garage at Clark and Grace. "And I think primarily from the combination of certain additions in the community and a more robust remote parking plan."
Will some of you who live in the 44th Ward (and the nearby 46th, too) please let Ald. Tunney know that the very last thing the neighborhood needs is more cars? If you are not familiar with the lot that Tunney refers to in the Tribune article linked above, it's about half a block east of Clark Street on Grace. The Cubs refer to their parking lots by color and for the life of me, I can't remember what color that one is. Anyway, Ald. Tunney, are you freaking kidding me? You want possibly 1,000 or 1,500 more cars on streets that are clogged with traffic before and after Cubs games? How do you think the neighborhood will respond to that?
Ald. Tunney, let me give you my completely unsolicited advice. You're way out of your league here, to use a baseball metaphor. You might be competent to advise and consent on a storefront business coming into your ward, but the Cubs are proposing a $500 million deal, if you add up the proposed dollars for the Wrigley renovation and the hotel they're talking about at the corner of Clark and Addison. (Which, incidentally, would bring far less traffic than a huge parking garage in the middle of a residential neighborhood.)
There's another article by David Kaplan at CSN Chicago also mentioning that Tunney is "playing hardball". Why would you do that? Why would you try to chase away a business that brings so much business to your ward? Frankly, Tunney doesn't have any idea what he's doing.
Tunney did have a somewhat better idea, proposing the Cubs offer free parking in remote lots. Where those would be, would have to be determined. You'd probably have to get them sponsored by someone in order for such a thing to be viable. The Cubs already offer some remote parking about two miles from Wrigley at DeVry Institute at Belmont and Western; it's not expensive, but the distance is difficult. I'm not sure there's really anywhere to have such a parking lot or garage that would hold enough cars close enough to Wrigley to be viable.
Tunney and the Cubs should be more strongly encouraging people to use public transportation, and increasing the options for those. More trains and more buses during ballgame hours, perhaps some incentives on price for game ticket holders, would keep people out of their cars and really help the neighborhood by reducing, instead of increasing, car traffic.
A parking garage at Grace and Clark. Wow. Talk about dumb ideas.