Not even the feel-good vibes of October expectations and sunny July skies over Wrigley Field are strong enough anymore to make an increasingly lethal real world go away for even a few hours at the ballpark.
Heightened security fears after recent terrorist attacks in such places as Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif., could result in all four streets around Wrigley Field being shut down on event days to all but a few authorized vehicles if the Cubs get what they want in talks with the city.
“We’re asking them to extend the perimeter of our control 100 feet in every direction,” Cubs business president Crane Kenney said during a Saturday session at Cubs Convention. “That doesn’t mean we want to own 100 feet in every direction. But we do want to know who is there and what they’re driving and why they’re there.”
Kenney also warned fans during Cubs Convention on Saturday to prepare for longer waits to get into the ballpark this year because everyone will be required to pass through metal detectors at every gate.
“The thing that used to keep me awake all night was the concrete and steel in our ballpark, which we’re fixing,” he said. “The thing that keeps me awake all night now is the crazy times we live in.”
Kenney called large venues such as Wrigley Field “targets” for would-be terrorists and talked about the scant six feet of sidewalk between the park and passing traffic on Addison.
He said the morning after the November attacks in Paris, he called a staff meeting to talk about security issues and hired a consultant, eventually leading to the request to shut down Clark and Addison Streets for events. Waveland and Sheffield already are closed to through traffic on game days.
Major League Baseball increased security league-wide since 9/11 and in 2014 mandated at least hand-held metal detectors for every ballpark by last year’s opener. The policy was inconsistently enforced at most parks, including Wrigley.
Kenney said that next week’s regularly scheduled owners meetings includes a session with an official from the Department of Homeland Security.
“We take the security issue really seriously,” Kenney said.