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Chicago City Council Committee Approves More Wrigley Changes

Eventually, this project will get done. Wrigleyville will change; some say for the worse, but the reality is, life will go on pretty much as it is now.

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The Sun-Times' Fran Spielman reports on the Chicago City Council Zoning Committee's actions Thursday regarding additional proposals the Cubs had made regarding the restoration of Wrigley Field and changes to the surrounding neighborhood, including a "branding arch" that will go over the Clark Street side of the ballpark:

The City Council’s Zoning Committee followed the Plan Commission’s lead by enlarging the stadium footprint at the expense of roughly 50 Sheffield parking spaces to accommodate wider aisles, more concessions and a larger Budweiser deck.

The Cubs are offering free parking in team lots on non-game days to residents whose street spaces will be lost.

The ad-laden branding arch over Clark is a trade-off for the pedestrian bridge over Clark scrapped at the behest of local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th).

"The ability to walk over Clark Street 20 feet with alcohol from the hotel [the Cubs plan to build] to the plaza just is not acceptable," the alderman said Thursday.

Spielman's article notes that just two local residents complained about the changes at the Zoning Committee meeting:

Allan Mellis, a long time Lincoln Park resident, urged aldermen to authorize the gateway arch, minus the "permanent advertising sign over the public way" that, he warned, would set a dangerous precedent for similar advertising creep citywide.

Chester Kropidlowski, a retired city traffic engineer now chairing East Lakeview Neighbors, complained that a gateway arch that should read, "Welcome to Lakeview: One of the best places to live," will instead say, "Drink Pepsi-Cola" or bear another corporate logo.

Kropidlowski also bemoaned the decision to narrow the width of Sheffield Avenue from 33 to 23 feet with no additional compensation to Chicago taxpayers.

"Our community is going to be giving a lot of quality-of-life issues away to benefit the Cubs for 80 plus days a year," he said. 

I can understand, up to a point, the complaints about the narrowing of Sheffield. The "permanent advertising sign"... really? That's going to change your quality of life if you live in Wrigleyville? If you don't like it, ignore it, or if you really don't like it, don't buy the products of the companies that advertise on it. We get bombarded with so much advertising, just about everywhere, these days, that I find it easy to pay it no mind.

In neither this article nor the one I wrote on this subject yesterday was any mention of the owners of the rooftop clubs across Waveland and Sheffield Avenues from Wrigley. It's been stated by Cubs management that they won't begin any construction until they have assurances from the rooftops that there won't be any lawsuits. So far, there hasn't been any such assurance.

At this point, the Cubs hope to begin construction next offseason. They said that last year at this time, too. Eventually, this will all get done. No one who is involved in any of these discussions will get everything they want -- it's been said that's the perfect way to compromise, where no one is completely happy. But what this will do, in the long run, is provide a better Wrigley Field for players and fans, and more revenue to produce a winning team on the field.

And isn't that what we all want?