Wrigley vendors worry about proposed restrictions

May 5, 2010 5:07:52 PM PDT
Street vendors who work around Wrigley Field fear their business may be taken away or severely cut back. They met Wednesday with Alderman Tom Tunney about proposed changes to an ordinance that would restrict vendors who set up shop around the Friendly Confines on game days.

The alderman says it would be an update from new rules put in place in 2006 when vendors of souvenir and food vendors were kicked off the Wrigley Field property.

Now, Tunney says they're clustering along Addison from Clark to Sheffield and presenting a safety hazard. But to those who say their livelihoods are being threatened that's just an excuse to let big economic interests beat them up.

On game day it can be challenging to get inside the Friendly Confines. Now the city is looking to keep peddlers and street performers off Clark and Addison, according to a map that was passed out by Alderman Tunney at a meeting he called with vendors at his restaurant in Lakeview Wednesday.

"There is no compromise. Sixty to 90 days this is going to happen and it is going to take most of the vendors out of a job," said Paul Ashack, Wrigley vendor for two years.

The new regulations would limit vendors to Sheffield behind right field, and Clark Street west of the Waveland Avenue fire station and prevent them from selling from 90 minutes before a game to 90 minutes after.

"They want 30 vendors inside one area. That is like 30 snakes inside a jar. And then they want us west of the fire station, you know what I mean. How are we going to make any monies?" said Charles Ustler, Wrigley vendor for seven years.

"We are seeing everything that is going down, just like the vendor in New York City that managed to see smoke coming from a car. What if he wasn't there? What if we are not there, I mean what would Wrigley Field be without us there?" said Joshua Soich, Wrigley vendor for two years.

The proposal has its supporters.

"You don't sell beer in front of a bar and you don't sell clothes in front of a retail operation. It is just how it is. I pay a lot in real estate taxes and, you know, if I could pay the peddler's fee, it would be a whole different story," said Brad Rosen, Sportsworld.

The alderman admits the Cubs' new ownership has talked to him about the vendors but he says the Ricketts family is just one voice among many.

"We have to figure out what is reasonable, what keeps the ballpark unique, and what keeps the spirit of entrepreneurism alive and well," said Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward.

Tunney says he has accepted campaign contributions from Wrigleyville merchants and the Cubs themselves. He adds that vendors have contributed to him as well. But he says he's not ready to go to council with a new ordinance yet, and says compromise is possible -- especially on the idea of blacking out sales 90 minutes before and after the game.


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