Wrigley Renovations: More Night Game Controversy

Sue Skowronski

The Chicago City Council is beginning to take up the issue of more night games at Wrigley Field. Naturally, there are some who are complaining.

Tuesday afternoon, there is a hearing going on before a Chicago City Council committee to discuss the Cubs' proposal for more night games (and other night events such as concerts, and 3:05 p.m. starts on some Fridays).

Naturally, that's provoked reaction from some Wrigleyville neighborhood groups:

Lake View Citizens' Council, an umbrella organization for ten neighborhood organizations, sent a letter to the mayor's office saying that the group still disagrees with the revival of six Friday 3:O5 games and raising the night game limit to 4O, with six more in case of broadcast requirements.

But if they can't get their original requests — a 33 night game limit and no Friday 3:O5 games — then a few "minimum" edits need to be added to the night game ordinance, they said.

For one, any game over the 4O limit should count against either future night games or Friday 3:O5 games, the letter says.

And since Friday 3:O5 games could happen as early as this season, LVCC asks that the team limit themsleves to three games in 2O13 as a trial — with existing night game parking restrictions enforced, traffic studies performed during the game and local business surveys conducted to check the impact.

If Friday 3:O5 games stay, the neighborhood organization wants night game parking restrictions enforced during all of them and for the team to host no more than one a month.

Day games should only be rescheduled as day games, the letter asks.

There are still four Friday games listed as "TBD" on this year's schedule: July 5, July 12, August 2 and August 16. The Cubs want some or all of those games to start at 3:05, and could wind up getting approval from the council to do so -- although the first of those dates is only a little more than four weeks away and could be problematic to get Major League Baseball approval for a time change if the council doesn't act quickly.

You already know how I feel about 3:05 starts, but it seems I'm in the extreme minority and they're going to happen in some form. The request to have no more than one a month seems reasonable.

According to this Sun-Times article, the Cubs' request for 40 night dates doesn't add six more beyond that for national television:

The mayor’s ordinance would raise the 30-game ceiling on the number of night games to 40 next season, but the Cubs would schedule just 35 of those dates. The other five would be held in reserve for night games dictated by Major League Baseball or its national TV contract.

It would appear that 40 night games is going to happen, in some form, with a handful of 3:05 starts on Fridays (likely in the summer, with early- and late-season Fridays retaining the current 1:20 starting time), along with up to four dates for other events such as concerts. To me, this seems like a fair compromise. I still believe that instead of 3:05, the Cubs should be permitted to play a night game on two or three Fridays a year, depending on the schedule, when they have a road game the previous day (regardless of whether that Thursday game is an afternoon or evening contest). That would provide more rest time for the team, and I can't imagine that three Friday nights out of 52 in a calendar year would be too burdensome on the neighborhood.

The night-game ordinance is still in a council committee; it could be some time before final approval. UPDATE: See the comments to this post for a link to what happened in the committee meeting. We're not anywhere near getting this thing settled.

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