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It’s time for the city of Chicago to repeal the Wrigley Field Friday night game ordinance

Enough already, Ald. Tunney and Mayor Lightfoot.

The lights at Wrigley Field
MLB via Getty Images

I can’t believe I have to write on this topic. Again.

The Cubs moved the time of Friday’s game from 1:20 p.m. CT to 7:05 p.m. CT due to inclement weather expected in the area all afternoon. (In fact, it is raining near Wrigley as I’m writing this article.)

Presumably, that means the Cubs had to receive permission from the city of Chicago, because the night-game ordinance governing games (and other events) under the lights at Wrigley does not permit night games on Fridays.

To give you a bit of history on this, the reason for the Friday night (and Saturday night, though that’s waived for national TV) prohibition was supposedly that restaurants in the area felt they’d lose business if ballgames were going on those nights. Yes, really, that’s the reason. But 34 years after Wrigley got lights, the neighborhood has been transformed into something totally different, and there are plenty of area restaurants that still do good business on weekend nights. Further, many of the restaurant owners who had this ordinance shoved through in the first place are long gone.

I have written on this topic nine times since 2017 — all the articles are in this BCB StoryStream, if you’d like more background.

The Cubs have held multiple concerts on Friday nights. And I ask Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) a serious question: What on Earth is the difference between 40,000 baseball fans in Wrigleyville on a Friday night and 40,000 concertgoers on a Friday night?

Here, Tom, I’ll answer that for you: There is no difference. It’s the same large crowd, same traffic woes, all the same. It’s a large event on a Friday night in your ward.

It’s way, way, way, WAY past time for this ridiculous restriction to be repealed. Yes, I am aware that the Cubs do like having some Friday afternoon games at Wrigley. It’s a nod to the pre-1988 system of all day games at the ol’ ballyard and generally, all other teams are playing night games on Fridays, so the Cubs and their opponent get the full attention of all baseball fans nationwide on a Friday afternoon. There is some value in that.

There’s also value in not forcing the Cubs to play on a Friday afternoon where they’re coming from another city playing a night game on the previous day. This situation will happen only once this year: Friday, August 5, a home date against the Marlins after a 6:45 p.m. CT game in St. Louis on August 4. The August 5 game is currently scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT. The Cubs should be allowed to play that game at night, perhaps at 6:05. The ordinance does allow the Cubs to schedule games as late as 4:05 p.m. CT without special permission; perhaps they’ll do that.

But this outdated ordinance really does need to be repealed. Thirty-four years after the first night game at Wrigley Field, the neighborhood has pretty much made peace with night games, and most people who live in the area have moved there since 1988, so night games have always been a “thing” for those people. Like folks who move near O’Hare Airport and complain about the airplane noise, anyone who has moved to Wrigleyville since 1988 knows there will be night games happening.

Beyond that, the restriction the Cubs currently have of 35 night games (up to 43 with national TV dates on Saturdays and Sundays) puts them at a competitive disadvantage to their opponents, most of whom schedule between 50 and 55 night games a year.

It’s 2022, Ald. Tunney. Stop living in the past and get this ordinance repealed. At the very least, give the Cubs permission to play Friday nights at home when they have a Thursday night game in another city, which in most years comes up two or three times during the baseball season.

End rant.