The Chicago Cubs’ plan for a year-round public plaza at Wrigley Field was curtailed by the Chicago City Council today, as the team will have limited times and dates to offer beer and wine in a severely controlled environment.
The Cubs were looking for permission to turn the new plaza outside the Friendly Confines into a year-round venue. Wrigleyville residents were against the idea, saying that the proposal would end up creating the Midwest’s largest beer garden and intrude even more into the surrounding neighborhood.
Led by Ald. Tom Tunney and endorsed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the City Council today approved a scaled-back set of permissions for open-air plaza usage, limiting alcohol sales to beer and wine and restricting admission to those holding tickets to the Cubs game, event or concert. While there is some flexibility for the Cubs in the matter, the final decision is much, much more restrictive than what the Cubs requested. From the Chicago Tribune:
Liquor sales on the plaza would be limited to beer and wine. Those drinks could only be sold during “stadium events” such as games and concerts and at a maximum of 12 special events per year, each requiring its own special permit.
The new rules would remain in place for three years to give the congested neighborhood time to adjust to a plaza with up to 6,000 patrons and a hotel and office building with more than 100,000 square feet of new food and beverage space.
The Cubs remain unhappy with the restrictions. After the vote, the team said its position had not changed from statements issued earlier. The team is not happy that people without tickets would be barred from the plaza on game days, and especially unhappy with a restriction on concerts that was tucked into the deal. Those big-money events now cannot be held at Wrigley during the CPS school year; the team says that violates a 2013 agreement on concerts at the ballpark.
With the decision of the council, the team now has three years to prove that the plaza won’t have a negative impact on the neighborhood.