Wrigley Renovations: Ald. Tom Tunney Is At It Again

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

The 44th Ward alderman hadn't made any incendiary statements recently regarding the Cubs' Wrigley renovation plans. And now, he has, again.

Just when you thought the Cubs, the city of Chicago and 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney were all getting along, Tunney decided to make another incendiary statement, regarding the Cubs' plan to put an open plaza with possible food and beverage kiosks on the triangle property west of Wrigley Field:

"What their opinion has been is, ‘We’ve got to build a bigger mousetrap so everyone will spend their money at Wrigley Field, but not necessarily on the Clark Street corridor," Tunney said. "They want to build a lot of food and beverage opportunities in addition to the hotel and everything else, because they’re jealous of all the things that are happening and they’re not getting the dollars for. I’ve only heard this about 2O times."

Well, that's pretty close to utter nonsense. The key sentence there is "I've only heard this about 20 times", which means that either people who live in the area and who don't understand the dynamics of the Cubs interacting with the neighborhood have been complaining, or business owners in the area have been complaining, neither of which has any merit. The linked article explains:

Cubs Vice President of Communications Julian Green said their plan to host events like farmers markets, movies and an ice rink in the plaza on non-game days will drive more business than ever to the bars and restaurants in Wrigleyville. And as for being jealous, Green says the Cubs are business partners with many of those bars.

"The first thing I want to say is to suggest that we’re jealous of bars and restaurants on Clark Street is laughable," Green said. "We’re partners with a number of them on Clark. … We’re an important engine for these bars and restaurants. What some people fail to mention is that there are more than 81 bars that certainly benefit from the economic engine that is Wrigley Field. We’re not only hoping (this renovation) will benefit these businesses in Lake View, but across the city." 

That's a lot closer to the truth, in my view. The bars and restaurants in the area rely on Cubs fans for much of their business, 81 days a year. Many of them, in fact, close several days a week during the offseason. If the Cubs' renovation plans bring more fans into the area -- and with what they're building, that could be on a year-round basis, not just during the baseball season -- that should benefit everyone.

Things are moving along with the renovation project and other requests made by the Cubs, and next week the City Council will take up the Cubs' proposal for more night games (and possible 3:05 Friday starts as early as this summer). Ald. Tunney's comments aren't helping matters, not at all.

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