Tunney details grievances against Cubs plan for Wrigley Field

May 8, 2012 2:57:12 PM PDT
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan for renovating Wrigley Field faces some opposition. Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents the Wrigleyville neighborhood, opposes the mayor's plan.

The Cubs have been looking for ways to finance the upgrades they have wanted to make at Wrigley Field for quite some time.

Traditionally, businesses in Chicago that want to make the kind of changes that the Cubs are hoping to make would have to have the alderman's blessing, but in this case, the Cubs have been working with Mayor Emanuel, which could lead to an interesting debate.

It is a historic ballpark in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood, and for decades, the Cubs and Lakeview residents have attempted to strike a delicate balance. Alderman Tom Tunney says he is looking out for those residents by opposing the Cubs proposal to close down Sheffield Avenue on game days for street fairs and to increase advertising around the ballpark.

The Cubs hope to bring in $150 million in additional revenue.

"I get the economic development," Tunney said. "I'm chair of economic development for the city, but it's not gonna be on the backs of the residents of Lakeview."

The Cubs and Mayor Emanuel have been negotiating using Boston's Fenway Park as a model. They host street fairs there on Yawkey Way.

A spokesman for Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts says, "We're trying to work with Alderman Tunney, but the Cubs just want the same flexibility to save Wrigley Field as the Red Sox had with Boston.

"The Red Sox owners saved Fenway through outfield signage and creating Yawkey Way, and in so doing, created great economic value for the community," the spokesperson said.

But Charlotte Newfeld, who has been fighting for the community against the Cubs since the team installed lights back in the 1980s, says the Lakeview neighborhood is very different from the area around Fenway.

"It's always been a park in a neighborhood," said Newfeld. "Fenway is not. No other place exists in the middle of a neighborhood like this."

"The area around Fenway is much different than I believe the area that I represent," said Tunney.

Tunney said he believes the negotiations with the mayor and the Cubs will continue, and eventually he believes they will reach a compromise.


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