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Wrigley Renovations: Ald. Tunney Issues New Threat

The Tinpot Dictator of the 44th Ward is at it again. You're likely not surprised by this.

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago Plan Commission will meet at City Hall Thursday at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the Cubs' proposal for Wrigley Field renovations.

In advance of that, two very interesting tweets from Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman got my attention this morning:

This Spielman article lists all the demands:

Tunney has demanded that the Cubs scrap a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street connecting a Cubs-built hotel to the team’s new office building; drop the hotel’s outdoor patio deck over Patterson Street, and shift hotel "lobby activity" from Patterson to either Clark or Addison.

On Wednesday, he added a fourth demand on the eve of a Chicago Plan Commission meeting on the $500 million Cubs development: He wants a 10-year moratorium on stadium signage beyond the huge money-makers already approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Does Ald. Tunney not understand that he is no longer in a position to make "demands"? That this is pretty much a done deal? I cannot imagine him trying to stand up on the council floor and try to put a stop to $500 million worth of development coming into his ward. Ald. Tunney, you've made your point, you've stood up for your campaign contributors constituents, now step aside and let this deal get done. As noted in Spielman's article:

A mayoral confidante, who asked to remain anonymous, said Emanuel is prepared to do the same before the Plan Commission and the City Council to deliver a $500 million private investment that will create 2,000 jobs.

“Brendan Reilly went through this on the Children’s Museum with a mayor who was totally antagonistic towards him,” the Emanuel confidante said.

“Here, you’ve got a mayor who has done everything he possibly can to make Tom Tunney happy and feel good about this and that support is being thrown back in the mayor’s face. The difference is dramatic. Look at all he’s getting for his community and he says it’s still not enough. Isn’t that outweighed by the fact that taxpayers are not paying $500 million” to renovate Wrigley and develop the land around it?

Exactly correct, in my view; at some point the mayor is pretty much going to have to tell Tunney to shut up and go along with this deal.

Related to this, some Wrigleyville residents plan to rally at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the corner of Clark and Patterson streets (Patterson is the small side street running east-west from Clark, in between Addison and Waveland). What's their beef?

The alderman whittled down a long list of neighborhood desires to a few, including moving the entrance of the hotel and eliminating a pedestrian bridge over Clark — all measures that would go through the Plan Commission Thursday before getting a vote in City Council. 

At Wednesday's rally, a couple hundred neighbors are expected to come out, said McIntyre. They will be focused on several points, including downsizing the hotel's density and reducing light and noise pollution to prevent a "Las Vegas atmosphere," a note to neighbors says.

"We are being left out," the note says. "We all need to join together and be heard and protect our neighborhood and current lifestyles."

So there are a couple more of the "demands" that Tunney is making. They might have a point in asking for the hotel entrance and "lobby activity" to be moved; Patterson is a one-block residential street where homes would be very close to the proposed hotel entrance. (That's where the McDonald's parking lot is currently located.)

It doesn't help when Tunney makes "demands". All of these things should have been negotiated between the parties in good faith ahead of time. The neighborhood "note" is wrong -- they are certainly not being "left out", as Tunney and others do carry their voice and some things have been changed from the Cubs' original proposal.

There's not going to be a "Las Vegas" atmosphere near Wrigley Field if the Cubs' plans go through. But the people who live there have to understand this isn't 1930, or 1960, or 1980. The Cubs must deal with present-day baseball reality, and their plans provide an upgraded facility as well as jobs for a neighborhood where no one, absolutely no one, should be surprised that there is a major-league baseball team playing there. In addition, the Cubs play 81 days at home every year. By my count, that leaves 284 days (285 in leap years) where there's no baseball and no crowds around the ballpark. Even if the Cubs add some concerts or other events, that's still three of every four days where it's a quiet residential neighborhood.

Stand down, Ald. Tunney, and let this project go forward.