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City of Chicago makes security demands of Cubs

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The city has a list of things it wants the Cubs to do regarding Wrigley Field security.

David Sameshima

The Cubs and the city of Chicago have had a somewhat contentious relationship in recent times regarding security at and around Wrigley Field. The Cubs at one point asked for the closure of Clark and Addison Streets on game days, something the city has said is a non-starter because of ripple effects on traffic throughout the city’s north side.

The Cubs have instituted security measures at Wrigley Field mandated by Major League Baseball, including having all fans pass through magnetometers on entry.

Thursday, the city made some security demands of the Cubs, according to this Sun-Times article:

They include:

— Promptly notifying the Chicago Police Department of any serious injury that occurs on Cubs property. Currently, the Cubs are “responsible for making the decision about whether the incident is criminal in nature, not the police,” an arrangement City Hall wants to change.

“We have been made aware that the Cubs did not immediately report a recent death at Wrigley Field,” the letter states. That’s presumably a reference to Richard Garrity, the 42-year-old fan who died last month after a fall at the ballpark.

— “Fully funding” design and construction of a city-approved plan to widen the sidewalk along Addison along the ballpark between Sheffield and Clark by “up to four feet to facilitate the installation of security barriers” or bollards. “This process would mirror standard procedures for a property owner proposing to improve the public way,” Tate-Nadeau wrote.

— Developing a “comprehensive security and crowd management plan” for the new open-air plaza adjacent to Wrigley Field that has become a big attraction for Cubs fans.

— Fully integrating Wrigley Field cameras — including 30 new ones installed with a $1 million donation from the Cubs — into the city network of 29,000 public and private cameras.

— Upgrading the public safety radio communications in the on-site Joint Operations Center at Wrigley.

— Outfitting off-duty police officers who moonlight as security officers for the Cubs with “an easily recognizable shirt or uniform, so they are readily identified as security enforcement.”

Some of these demands are things the Cubs are doing already. The last, having off-duty police wear “an easily recognizable shirt or uniform,” is being done — I see these officers in “SECURITY” shirts nearly every day at the ballpark.

The rest of the items are things you’d think would be fairly easily done and cooperatively between the city and the team. The photo at the top of this post shows concrete barriers on Addison Street that are approximately the distance stated in the city’s demands. That photo was taken March 11, but those barriers have been in place since at least last year and are still there, and effectively already are widening the area where people can walk on the south side of Addison. (The green construction fence shown in the photo is no longer there, though.) There are places where the outer wall of the ballpark on that side of Addison is only about six feet from the curb, and widening the sidewalk and putting bollards or other “security barriers,” as the article states, could easily be done.

It’s a bit puzzling why the city sent this rather contentious letter to the Cubs when a cooperative deal to put these useful measures in place could have probably been worked out.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the safety and security of Wrigleyville in general and Cubs fans in particular is “one of our top priorities.”

“In the past year alone, we have committed more than $1 million to expand OEMC’s camera network,invested millions of dollars into additional security personnel, provided canines and metal detection screening capabilities, and added off-hours security on the streets of Lakeview,” Green wrote in an emailed statement.

During the current homestand there has been an increased, visible police presence in the area around Wrigley Field, with uniformed police in place both before and after games. There haven’t been any incidents in the area during the homestand, to my knowledge.

Here’s hoping the city and the Cubs work out a deal for security measures that will satisfy both parties, as well as Major League Baseball.