This isn’t a surprise: Chicago Cubs President Crane Kenney wants the city to loosen restrictions on Wrigley Field night games, allowing the club to schedule as many as 54 evening dates — the MLB average.
When the Cubs sought extensive changes to Wrigley Field in 2013, part of the deal involved a limitation of 35 night games, plus eight nationally scheduled night games. The Cubs did get much of what they wanted — expanded videoboards, extended development (including a new building and park at the triangle site next to the ballpark), concerts and more. That agreement has seven more years to run, but Kenney is arguing that the defending World Series champ should have additional night games with no strings attached, per the Chicago Sun-Times:
“It should be lifted. . . . We’re one of the few teams that not only has to beat everyone in our division, we also have to beat the city that we play in to try and win games,” Kenney said during a live interview on WSCR-AM (670).
“Four times a year I go to the owners’ meetings, and the other team presidents and owners watch what’s happening in Chicago, and they can’t understand it. In those cities, they’re getting new ballparks built for them, and they’re getting street closures and . . . there’s no night game limitations. They look at Chicago and say they just can’t understand it. . . . At some point we’d love to not be handicapped, as no other team in baseball is by the number of night games you play.”
Kenney has long been a thorn in Emanuel’s side for going toe-to-toe with City Hall in the bargaining that preceded the landmark deal that paved the way for the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field and develop the land around it.
The limitation on night games was a compromise in the negotiations. The surrounding neighborhood didn’t really want to see much of an increase in night games at all. And let’s face it: night games are disruptive. But there’s no one in the area that didn’t move in knowing they’d be living close to Wrigley Field and hordes of Cubs fans. And there’s no doubt the Cubs have been a good neighbor, investing in the area surrounding the ballpark. In other cities, ballparks are anchors for neighborhood development.