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Dear Mayor Emanuel & Ald. Tunney: It’s time to allow the Cubs to play on Friday nights

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Last Friday’s game helped the team and showed the neighborhood could handle it.

Al Yellon

The best reason for the Cubs to receive permission from the city of Chicago to play some Friday night games at Wrigley Field can be seen in this time schedule from Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.

The game was delayed by rain for 52 minutes, and then ran three hours, 13 minutes, ending at 10:10 Central time.

The Cubs’ flight home landed at O’Hare Airport at 1:06 a.m. Central time early Friday. Figure between the players picking up their luggage, getting ground transportation, etc. they probably got home sometime around 3 a.m., maybe even a bit later.

And had they played on the original schedule, they then would have had to play the Brewers 10 hours later — after the Brewers had nearly 48 hours off after finishing up a series in Cincinnati last Wednesday afternoon.

I should note that even though the Cubs lost Friday’s game, it was still a better matter of fairness for them to have a few more hours of rest after returning from Pittsburgh.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), after negotiating with Cubs management, allowed the game-time change from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m., which gave the players enough time to get a good night’s sleep. As Anthony Rizzo stated:

"Now we'll have more than two hours of sleep," Rizzo said Thursday night, when he drove in two runs to help the Cubs pull away to an 8-2 victory over the Pirates at soggy PNC Park.

The city says this is a “one-time exemption.” I’m here to state very strongly that the city should lift the Friday night ban.

Within the last calendar year, in addition to this past Friday night’s game, there have been four other Friday nights at which events have taken place at Wrigley Field: Two postseason games (Game 1 of the NLDS vs. the Giants, and Game 3 of the World Series) and two concerts (Billy Joel on August 11 and Lady Gaga on August 25).

No problems were reported from any of those events, even though they were all complete sellouts. The usual event traffic was handled well, and nothing unusual was reported in terms of arrests made. I noticed the same this past Friday. Traffic was a bit heavier than usual, but otherwise things in the area seemed about the same as they were for any other night game.

So, I ask to Mayor Emanuel and Ald. Tunney: What’s the difference between allowing a Friday night concert at Wrigley and allowing a Friday night baseball game?

Here’s a detailed history of how night baseball at Wrigley Field came to be and where it stands as of now. Next summer will be the 30th anniversary of artificially-lighted baseball at Wrigley Field, so the vast majority of people who live in the area now have likely moved there since there were night games and should be accustomed to them. The Cubs devote a significant amount of money and personnel to make sure the neighborhood is clean and safe after night games.

The team is already permitted Saturday night games if national TV networks request them. There were two such games this year (May 6 vs. the Yankees and June 8 vs. the Pirates).

Why not permit a couple such games on Friday nights, then, similar to the game last Friday when the Cubs really needed the rest coming off a road trip? They will have a similar issue the last week of this month when they play Thursday night, September 28 in St. Louis and then have a 1:20 game Friday, September 29 at Wrigley against the Reds. This sort of thing generally happens two or three times every year. Wouldn’t that be a fair compromise? The city should allow the Cubs to play on Friday night if they have to play Thursday night in another city. That seems right, and shouldn’t inconvenience the neighborhood too much.

Get it done, Mayor Emanuel and Ald. Tunney. It’s way past time.