The Cubs are accusing City Hall of demanding security improvements around Wrigley Field in a “calculated” public relations campaign designed to “distract attention from the city’s lack of resources and the decision not to close the public streets” around the stadium.
“While we understand the city’s challenges, we are better off working together on solutions than creating fake news and false impressions about Wrigley Field security,” Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney wrote in a June 13 letter to City Hall, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Kenney noted that, in the last month alone, vehicles have been used to pull off terrorist attacks in Times Square and on the London Bridge. He also cited the terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at a stadium in Manchester, England.
Kenney wrote that the city of Boston has closed the streets around Fenway Park. But in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly refused the Cubs’ request to close Addison and Clark on game days for fear of exacerbating congestion and alienating residents.
“We understand this will have an impact on the traffic in the neighborhood, but believe we have to put aside the public posturing and politicizing and make hard decisions if we, like Boston, are to protect the safety and security of Cubs fans,” Kenney wrote. “Certain vulnerabilities can only be addressed by closing the streets.”
Earlier this month, Emanuel demanded that a team spending millions building new clubs for high-rolling season ticket holders invest in security around Wrigley.
The mayor made six security demands of the Cubs and summoned team officials to a meeting to discuss the improvements.
Kenney’s letter includes a point-by-point rebuttal of those demands. Among his arguments:
• The plaza known as “The Park at Wrigley” already has a “comprehensive security and crowd control plan in place” and that the city approved it before the plaza was opened.
• The Cubs plan to donate $1 million to add 30 more security cameras around Wrigley and tie those cameras into the city’s vast network of public and private surveillance cameras, monitored by the 911 center, has been “met with obstacles and bureaucracy on a regular basis.”
• The Cubs repeatedly requested that off-duty officers moonlighting as security at the stadium and outdoor plaza be allowed to wear Chicago Police uniforms or an insignia identifying them as police officers, but the city has “denied those requests.”
In a response dated Wednesday, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, took exception to Kenney’s suggestion that the city was guilty of “falsehoods” or that the security demands were a “public relations tactic.”
But she wrote, “We are optimistic that we are moving forward to resolve a majority of the matters in the next few weeks.”
She promised to “continue the dialogue” on street closings and offered to “purchase barriers” for some of the streets around Wrigley.