If you’re thinking, “I’ve read this article here before,” you’re right, or at least articles on the same topic. Here. And here. And here. And here. (I’ve now made a StoryStream with all these articles, including this one, here.)
The reason you’re reading about this topic again is this week’s Cubs schedule, which has them playing tonight at 6:10 p.m. CT against the Mets in New York, then tomorrow afternoon at 1:20 p.m. against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Given a normal-length game (and there’s never any guarantee of that), the Cubs’ plane is likely to land at O’Hare Airport around 1 a.m. And then they’ve got to be ready to go at Wrigley about 12 hours later.
Clearly, this is not optimal.
I’m writing about this again because it’s way past time for the city of Chicago to amend the night-game ordinance to allow Friday night baseball at Wrigley Field, at least on the two or three occasions a year where the Cubs are returning home from a Thursday night road game. (The 2020 schedule has two such games. The Cubs are scheduled to host the Cardinals Friday, April 10 after a game the previous day in Pittsburgh, though that game vs. the Pirates is a day game. And they’ll play the Brewers Friday, July 31, 2020 at Wrigley after a Thursday, July 30 game in San Francisco. The Giants haven’t announced a time for that game yet, though it will likely be an afternoon start. Still, the Cubs will still likely arrive at O’Hare around midnight due to the time zone difference and the length of the flight.)
Cubs spokesman Julian Green told me, “We are the only team in baseball with this kind of restriction and we believe it’s antiquated,” and I agree completely.
One thing that could work in the Cubs’ favor in getting the night-game ordinance modified is the change in the mayor’s office. (Note: In general, political commentary is not allowed here. In this case, where governmental policy directly affects the Cubs, it’s not only permitted but necessary.)
New Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already signed an executive order limiting “aldermanic privilege.”
Aldermanic privilege ― or more formally, aldermanic prerogative ― gives the local lawmakers veto power over zoning and permits in their own wards. Technically, it’s more of a custom since it isn’t codified in city law.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) was able to use this prerogative to get codified into law the Friday night game ban. As Green noted, this ban is “antiquated,” especially since the Cubs have already held six concerts on Friday nights over the last three years. From a practical standpoint, there is no difference (traffic, crowd control, etc.) between a concert and a baseball game at Wrigley Field.
So I call on Mayor Lightfoot, Ald. Tunney and the Chicago City Council to amend the city’s night-game ordinance to permit the Cubs to play home games on Friday nights up to three times a year, which is generally the maximum number of times they’d begin a homestand on a Friday immediately following a Thursday road game. There’s one additional such game this year, Friday, September 13 vs. the Pirates, following an afternoon game Thursday, September 12 in San Diego. That 9/13 game is already scheduled as a 3:05 p.m. CT start, which is helpful. The Cubs do have the right, per the ordinance, to start games as late as 4:05 p.m. on Fridays. They did that once last year (June 29) coming back from a game in Los Angeles the previous day.
As Green mentioned, the Cubs are the only team with this kind of restriction. It puts them at a competitive disadvantage. It’s way past time for the city of Chicago to acknowledge this and remove this restriction on night games at Wrigley Field — and in fact, while they’re at it, lift the 35-game cap on night games so that the Cubs can compete on a level playing field with other MLB teams who play around 50-55 night games per year.
Get it done, Mayor Lightfoot.