Trucks will be banned from the streets around Wrigley Field — and other traffic will be sharply constricted — to ramp up security for Monday’s Cubs’ home opener and, probably, the entire season.
The security bubble, which mirrors the plan in place during the playoffs and World Series, will be bounded by Irving Park Road, Belmont, Halsted and Southport.
Within that perimeter, trucks and “anything above a cargo van” will be banned and diverted starting two hours before the game and continuing until one hour after the game.
All remaining traffic will be reduced to one lane, according to Rich Guidice, first deputy director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication.
“We’re gonna do what we call a traffic slowdown at these locations: Clark Street at Grace and Racine; Clark Street at Newport and Sheffield; Addison and Halsted and Addison and Racine,” Guidice said.
“We’re not going to stop vehicle traffic from coming through. But we’re gonna slow it down. We’re gonna set up a barricade and cone configuration where cars will have to do what we call a serpentine configuration. They’ll slow down,” he said. “We’ll be able to have law enforcement personnel put some eyes on the vehicle passing through the slowdown, and then continue through. . . . When we set this thing up on game day, it’ll probably be about one lane in each direction. That’s what it will come down to.”
Guidice said the security plan will be reassessed after the first three home games at Wrigley. But it’s likely to remain in place for the entire season, he said.
“The Cubs are a high-profile organization. They just won the championship last year. We’re just doing our best to control the crowd and control traffic around the area,” Guidice said.
The security plan marks a significant ramp-up from the plan in place around Wrigley last season prior to the playoffs and World Series.
But it does not go as far as the game day shutdown of Addison and Clark that the Cubs wanted, particularly after the terrorist attack in London that saw five people killed and 40 others injured after an attacker drove a car into a crowd along Westminister Bridge near the British Parliament.
Amid persistent opposition from local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and Wrigleyville residents, Mayor Rahm Emanuel once again slammed the door.
“That’s not going to happen. . . . There are no plans for that kind of closure around the ballpark. Nothing is really gonna be closed off. The arterials are gonna remain open,” Tunney said.
“They’re going to have a lot of police out here, a lot of TMA’s and they’re really gonna try to keep the crowd moving. Part of that is to keep the street as open as possible. Once you start closing streets, the fans take over the streets. I don’t think that’s in the safest interest.”
Guidice added, “Wrigley Field is situated right in the middle of a thriving community. We feel that the system we have in place is a good public safety mechanism to control the crowd and control the traffic. We’re comfortable with the position we’ve taken.”
Monday is not just the day the Cubs will hoist the championship banner. It’s opening day for new open-air plaza adjacent to the stadium that the team is calling the “Park at Wrigley.”
Last week, Tunney warned that the Cubs’ plan for securing the plaza and enforcing city rules was “not fully-baked.”
On Thursday, he warned the Cubs to strictly enforce occupancy limits and rules governing the sale of beer and wine at the plaza or risk losing their hard-fought license.
“That’ll be up to Cubs security. They have a responsibility like any establishment. Any establishment has a responsibility to keep their occupancy. And we’ve shut down places before that had more occupancy than they’re legally entitled to,” Tunney said.
“It’s like any other business. This is the business. The occupancy rules. If they cannot keep their occupancy limits, their license is in jeopardy. . . . There’s an entrance off Waveland. There’s an entrance off Clark. There’s an entrance from Addison. There’s plenty of places to access it. There’ll be security at every one of ’em. And two hours before the game, you have to have a ticket to be on the plaza.”
Buildings Department spokeswoman Mimi Simon refused to say what the occupancy level will be.
In an emailed statement Thursday night, Cubs spokesman Julian Green wrote: “The Cubs and the Ricketts family have the most incentive to ensure the safety and security of our fans. It is our top priority every game. We don’t know why the Alderman would even suggest our capability to follow the rules would be anything less than compliant but rest assured we will do everything in our power to ensure our fans and neighbors have a safe and enjoyable opening day.”
The plan approved by the City Council last summer gave Tunney many of the safeguards he wanted to prevent the plaza from turning into what Wrigleyville residents have called the “Midwest’s largest beer garden.”
Liquor sales on the plaza will be limited to beer and wine. Those drinks can be sold only during “stadium events” such as games and concerts and at a maximum of 12 special events per year, each requiring its own special permit.
And on game and stadium concert days, attendance at the open-air plaza will be limited to fans with tickets.
The plaza, which Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has likened to the town squares of old Europe, will make its debut at 10 a.m. Monday, hours before the championship banner is hoisted at the home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.