Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear Monday he’s gone as far as he intends to go in relaxing rules governing the sale of beer and wine at an open-air plaza adjacent to Wrigley Field and advised the Cubs to accept the deal and declare victory.
“When you express your bottom lines and they’re met, sometimes you’ve just got to be able to take `yes’ for an answer,” the mayor said.
“I know what they wanted by the 9th inning. I know what they wanted on day games afterwards. I know they wanted more than two years [for the pilot]. They wanted more than eight events. And that has been, by Ald [Tom] Tunney and myself agreed to.”
Emanuel said he had four “North Stars” in forging the agreement.
“One, they be able to make an investment and their fans would experience a modern baseball field consistent with my goals of Fenway [Park] being a model. Two, that the rights and aspirations and desires of the neighborhood be respected, heard and addressed. Third, there be no taxpayers’ support for this effort. Every one of those have been achieved,” the mayor said.
“They expressed what their bottom lines were. And we have an agreement on that. We’re gonna be moving forward. A week from Wednesday, the City Council will pass … what I would describe as a concensus and a compromise.”
Cubs spokesman Julian Green would only, “Our answer and any further details about the plaza will be communicated directly to the city to bring this to resolution.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday that Emanuel had brokered a deal to resolve the latest in a series of controversies between the Cubs and Tunney, but the team was still crying foul.
“This is absolutely, 100 percent in error. We are miles from a deal that includes these terms,” Green said then.
“None of these terms are reasonable when you’re trying to invest $750 million. The city should look at the ordinance from 2013, which was the deal. That should be the framework for anything going forward.”
To prevent the plaza from becoming what Wrigleyville residents have called the “Midwest’s largest beer garden,” 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.
On game and stadium concert days, attendance at the open-air plaza would be limited to fans with tickets.
During day games, beer and wine sales would start two hours before the game and stop one hour after the game. The drinks would have to be consumed on the plaza or inside the stadium.
During night games, the beer and wine spigot would turn on two hours before the game and off when the game ends.
Liquor sales on the plaza during the dozen special events would start when the festivities begin and end one hour before they end. Same goes for the handful of Wrigley concerts.
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.
Tunney wanted a 7th-inning cut-off and no more than eight special events each year. The Cubs were demanding longer hours and fifteen special events.
Emanuel came down pretty much in the middle and added a third year to Tunney’s two-year test.
Wrigleyville residents have accused Emanuel of going too far by giving the Cubs the go-ahead to put up two video scoreboards, four other outfield signs, extend the Wrigley footprint onto public streets and sidewalks without compensating Chicago taxpayers, and play more night games.
At Emanuel’s behest, the City Council also approved the Cubs’ plan to put up even more ad-revenue generating signs at the new hotel, office building and plaza.
Now, the mayor has bent even more to accomodate the Cubs, but not as much as Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts wanted.
Ricketts has argued that he “had a deal” with Emanuel and Tunney before the alderman changed the plaza rules in the middle of the game.
He has offered to limit liquor sales to beer and wine. But beyond that, Rickets said last week he was through negotiating.
“It’s our property. It’s what we negotiated . . . We want to get back to where we were — to the deal we all agreed to a few years ago. Other than that, I don’t think I should have to accept anything,” he said.
But, midway through a $750 million project built entirely with the Cubs’ own money, Ricketts is hardly in a position to dictate terms if he wanted to get the plaza up and running in time for a post-season run by the team with the best record in Major League Baseball.
Last month, the Cubs accused Tunney of “fronting” for Clark Street bars and tried the licensing equivalent of a squeeze play to get around the local alderman.
Levy Restaurants applied for a patio permit that would allow liquor sales on the plaza for the extended hours included in Tunney’s original 2013 outdoor patio ordinance — until 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. The patio license would also allow for the sale of mixed drinks in addition to beer and wine.
Tunney countered by proposing even stricter rules that Ricketts refused to accept.
If the City Council ratifies terms of the compromise, the patio permit application would be denied.