Cubs President of Baseball Operations Crane Kenney went on 670 The Score Monday to lobby the city of Chicago to allow more night games at Wrigley Field.
Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times has the complete story:
On Monday, Kenney opened a new front in his ongoing battle against City Hall during a radio interview that preceded the opening game of the Crosstown Showdown against the White Sox.
It happened when Kenney was asked why the first two games between the Cubs and Sox at Wrigley Field were day games.
“The answer is the same answer it’s been since I’ve been here, which is we don’t have enough night games,” he said.
Kenney went on to explain that the ordinance revised in 2013 allows the Cubs to play 35 “scheduled night games, plus up to eight games that get basically scheduled by national broadcasting contracts.”
Since Sunday night’s game against the Cardinals was televised nationally by ESPN, it counted against the eight floating night game dates.
“It’s a real jigsaw puzzle every year for us to try and figure out where we use our very precious night games,” Kenney said, pointing to team travel, the time of year and the team’s desire to hold more concerts that allow the Cubs to keep all of the revenue instead of sharing it with other teams.
“We can have up to 43 total night games. The league average is 54, so we’re still 11 short from what the rest of the league plays,” he said.
While I realize that’s quite a bit of quoting from the article, it’s necessary to explain the issue the Cubs have. As you can see, they are limited to 43 night games a season, eight of which can be national-TV events. The Cubs could have scheduled the two games this week against the White Sox as night games, but chose to have more concerts this year. This is, as Kenney noted, because the team doesn’t have to revenue-share the money from concerts. How much that amounts to is unknown, but Spielman quoted Kenney as saying that all the concert revenue goes into the baseball operations budget. Ald. Tom Tunney got his two cents in:
In an emailed statement, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said: “The ordinance governing evening activities inside Wrigley Field was negotiated by the Cubs, the community, myself and the Mayor’s office and has another seven years before it expires. The Cubs have chosen to schedule concerts in instead of night games.”
I have long been in favor of more night games at Wrigley Field. While the tradition of day baseball is a nice one to keep, up to a point, it should be remembered that next year is the 30th anniversary of lights being installed at Wrigley. You’d have to be in your late 30s or early 40s or older to have any real memory of Wrigley Field as an all-day-game place. And while it is true that in some cases Wrigley weekday-afternoon contests draw better than night games the same week, we are not only talking about attendance as an issue here. There’s also TV revenue, where ratings are always higher for night games, as well as the issues of travel and fatigue for players.
Even if Kenney got what he asked for, there would still be about one-third of the home schedule played during the day, likely mostly on weekends and getaway days.
While Tunney is correct that the Cubs chose to schedule some concerts this year in lieu of night games, the Cubs are still at a disadvantage compared to other teams because of this restriction. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Friday night restriction on games and why it’s silly because the team can host Friday night concerts.
It’s time for the city of Chicago to lift these restrictions and allow the Cubs to schedule night games the way the 29 other major-league teams do. The Cubs have been good neighbors and have spent quite a bit of money on neighborhood security and cleanup. They need to be permitted to join the 21st Century in terms of game scheduling.