Cubs Night-Game Increase Sent To City Council

David Banks

There will soon be more games at Wrigley Field under the lights. This is a good thing for the team, and it won't impact the neighborhood -- much.

The slow process of getting the Cubs' Wrigley Field restoration proposal approved began Wednesday with the submission by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the City Council of the portion of the deal that involves an increase in the number of night games.

Here are the essential details, from the Tribune:

Under the proposed ordinance, the Cubs would be allowed to schedule 35 night games. They would hold back five games to satisfy requirements of MLB's national television contract.

If the league requests more than five games be switched from day to night to be televised nationally, the Cubs would have to get approval from the City Council or the city's legal department. Emanuel and Tunney suggested that no more than six games be rescheduled above the 4O-game cap to accommodate the league's television contract.

In general, what this means is that in most years, the Cubs would have 40 home night games. The "rescheduled" games are ones that, for the most part, ESPN decides they want for their Monday or Wednesday night package -- not the Sunday night exclusive. The Sunday night games, if any, would be part of the "five games" that would be "held back" -- that would also include Saturday night games requested by Fox-TV. For weeknight games, though, it's been my experience that those games aren't usually rescheduled from afternoon to night -- more likely, those would be already-scheduled 7:05 p.m. CT games that would be shifted to 6:05. There aren't any of those on this year's schedule -- yet -- but there have been in past seasons.

The article also notes:

The proposal also would permit the Cubs to host four concerts and to make changes to its schedule as soon as next month. It allows for six Friday afternoon games starting at 3:05 instead of the traditional 1:20. The Cubs would like to move back some Friday afternoon games this season if the City Council approves the night-game plan.

When this year's schedule was released with game times, it included six Fridays listed as "TBD". Two of those dates -- June 7 and June 21 -- have already been set as 1:20 starts, but the other four: July 5, July 12, August 2 and Augus 16 -- could be switched to 3:05 if this deal is approved with enough time to get Major League Baseball to approve the change. The July 5 date, in particular, would be useful to the Cubs since they are playing an afternoon game in Oakland July 4 that starts at 3:05 p.m. CT.

In addition, as has been the case in the past, postseason games (a far-off dream right now) and the All-Star Game, if the Cubs again host it, would not count against any night-game limit. This Sun-Times article indicates that the Friday 3:05 starts would be on a "trial basis" and be evaluated after a few years to check their impact on local traffic.

Personally, I still believe a handful of Friday night games every year would be more beneficial to the team than the 3:05 time, for reasons I've mentioned here before. But the Cubs are pressing ahead; as noted, we might see some of these later this year -- and there are already six Saturday Wrigley dates this year scheduled to start at 3:05 (June 8, June 22, July 6, August 3, August 31 and September 21). You'll see what I mean regarding the issues with shadows when those happen -- even in the peak of summer, the June and July dates.

Finally, you'll note that the ordinance as introduced by the mayor contains some changes from the Cubs' original proposal. I suspect that other parts of the proposal might be modified before approval, as well.

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