The number of night games and concerts the Chicago Cubs can host at Wrigley Field this year might be in for a big change, with an announcement about the new number of nighttime events supposedly slated for later this month.
Because Wrigley Field is nestled tightly into Lake View, neighbors use the City of Chicago’s Night Game Ordinance, limiting the number of late-night showdowns the team can hold to just 30 each year. The Cubs say the average number of night games each team in the league hosts annually is 54.
The injunction also blocks the scheduling of games on Friday or Saturday nights unless Major League Baseball demands it, but according to the Cubs, they’re hoping for a change this season.
The team is asking to amend the ordinance so they can host more night games and concerts, host games at Wrigley Field starting at 7:05 p.m. on Saturdays and play on Fridays at 3:05 p.m. The team currently can’t start games past 1:05 p.m. on Fridays.
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But between bar and restaurant owners saying Saturday night games could kill their business and some neighbors dreading the traffic implications, the move to maximize nighttime games has been a struggle for the Cubs.
The team sent out a game time survey to nearly 13,000 neighbors and season ticket holders Oct. 24 to gauge how the community felt about the potential change, and based on the replies, the results were extremely positive. More than 4,300 people responded, and almost 75 percent of Lake View neighbors said they would like 3 p.m. games on Fridays, and 70 percent said they liked the idea of Saturday night games, too.
“We are in an urban neighborhood, and we are aware our situation is unique,” said Cubs Vice President of Community Affairs Mike Lufrano. “…Of those surveys that we’ve done, we’re seeing something a little different (from neighbors’ complaints). We’re seeing more than 70 percent of the community who want this.”
“There’s no stronger critic than I of what the Cubs have or have not done in the last 30 years.”
But neighboring organizations aren’t so sure. Southport Neighborhood Association, East Lake View Neighbors Association and Belmont Harbor Neighbors Association each conducted their own surveys, some worried that answers from season ticket holders would affect the Cubs' survey.
The results from their questionnaires, passed around to members of the neighborhood organizations, were less positive. Fewer than 30 percent of Southport Neighbors supported games on Saturdays, and East Lake View Neighbors were split pretty evenly on the changes, as were Belmont Harbor Neighbors.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says the Cubs want him to introduce the new agreement in February, but he’s still working out the details. Right now—per a suggestion by the Lake View Citizen’s Council—he’s planning to offer them three more night games and a total of four concerts, with some exceptions for MLB demands.
“I haven’t approved anything,” Tunney said. “I got a letter from the LVCC about the night games. Nothing has been signed off on the community whether it be night games, concerts, the planned development (of the park’s restoration) or a hotel across the street.”
Tunney said the deal regarding nighttime events should also include a solution to the Wrigley Rooftops advertising debacle and a decision as to whether the Cubs can close a part of Sheffield Avenue to host block parties during games.
Regardless, the alderman says he wants to move forward with some sort of deal that has his top interest in mind: the neighborhood.
“There’s no stronger critic than I of what the Cubs have or have not done in the last 30 years,” Tunney said. “I’ve seen it every day. … Is it just feast or famine, or can we have an integrated community that’s also respectful to the neighborhood?”