SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Ever since the Cubs began their renovation/restoration project at Wrigley Field, eliminating the surface parking lot that stood where the Park at Wrigley is now located, Cubs players and some executives and staff have parked in a large tent that has been constructed during the season on what was once the team’s Blue Lot, which is located at the northwest corner of Waveland and Seminary.
This has been going on for three seasons. And now, who’s upset about it? Why, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who seems to delight in tormenting the Cubs, and usually not for any good reason.
Tunney claims — after this tent has been in use for three years — that “neighbors don’t want it,” according to Fran Spielman in the Sun-Times:
In a March 12 letter to the aldermen, sixteen local residents urged Tunney to deny a permit for the “tent and curtain on the Blue Lot.”
“Since October of 2015 and the subsequent two seasons, the erected tent has been the cause of many problems,” the letter obtained by the Sun-Times states.
“Neighbors have been burdened with difficulty accessing their garages, dangerous traffic encounters, exorbitant noise created from the tent on windy days and the unsightly nature of it.”
There’s no doubt that there are traffic issues with residents getting to garages during games. This would, however, be the case even if there were no tent — traffic around Wrigley on game days is a mess, as you can surely imagine. And it took these 16 neighbors three years to figure this out? Nonsense, and Cubs spokesman Julian Green told Spielman, in response:
“We want to continue using this tent because it provides an additional layer of security for our players and their families,” Green said Wednesday.
“Without the tent, anyone from any area around that Blue Lot could walk into the lot. These are players who obviously make a lot of money. To have them exposed like that puts them at risk — before and after the game….There is no current barrier that protects the perimeter of the lot. This is about protecting our players and their families and personnel from individuals who want to commit a crime of opportunity, especially after night games or when players leave their cars when they’re on the road.”
Green is correct. I walk by that area every single day there’s a home game. Cubs security personnel do a good job keeping that area safe both for players and for fans in the area. If that tent weren’t there, not only Cubs personnel but perhaps others in the area might be subject to “crimes of opportunity.”
To me, this is just another Tunney tweak at the Cubs for no particular reason. Keep in mind that this tent is only up during the baseball season — that is, at most it’s there from early April until the end of October. The other six months a year it’s not there at all and the lot is empty, save for some construction trailers. (Where would Ald. Tunney propose to put those during construction season?) Further, while Cubs players do sometimes park their cars in the tent during road trips, it’s really not much “in use” during those times; no one’s driving in and out, and if you go by Wrigley Field when the Cubs are out of town or on an off day, it’s generally very quiet and neighborhood residents have no trouble getting to and from their homes.
Here’s a statement from Green that might hit the nail on the head:
“He’s approved this permit for the last three years. There can be no other reasons for him to oppose this permit beyond getting ready to go into an election year,” said Cubs spokesman Julian Green.
There is one thing noted in Spielman’s article that I can see being an issue for neighbors:
The letter goes on to request that Tunney oppose any permit for the placement of garbage dumpsters and garbage truck removal on the south end of the Blue Lot ...
“Not only is the disposal and compaction a tremendous noise nuisance. The dumpsters are an eyesore,” the letter states.
I can confirm it’s noisy. You can hear these things inside the ballpark during games — over all the crowd noise. Still, Wrigley Field sits on a very small footprint and there might not be any other place to put those dumpsters. Again, they’re only in use during and shortly after games.
The bottom line is that this seems just another thing Ald. Tunney has done simply because he and the Cubs haven’t gotten along. There’s no reason to deny a permit for something that’s generally not been an issue for area residents for three years. Now, suddenly, it is? Personally, I don’t see it.
Hopefully, Ald. Tunney relents on this and gives the Cubs the tent permit. Opening Day at Wrigley Field is just 26 days away.