Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration demanded Thursday that the Cubs upgrade security around Wrigley Field in the wake of terrorist attacks in Europe that have intensified the team’s longstanding demand for game-day street closings.
In a letter to Crane Kenney, president of business operations for the Cubs, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, outlined six security measures that require the team’s “prompt attention.”
— Promptly notifying the Chicago Police Department of any serious injury that occurs on Cubs property. Currently, the Cubs are “responsible for making the decision about whether the incident is criminal in nature, not the police,” an arrangement City Hall wants to change.
“We have been made aware that the Cubs did not immediately report a recent death at Wrigley Field,” the letter states. That’s presumably a reference to Richard Garrity, the 42-year-old fan who died last month after a fall at the ballpark.
— “Fully funding” design and construction of a city-approved plan to widen the sidewalk along Addison along the ballpark between Sheffield and Clark by “up to four feet to facilitate the installation of security barriers” or bollards. “This process would mirror standard procedures for a property owner proposing to improve the public way,” Tate-Nadeau wrote.
— Developing a “comprehensive security and crowd management plan” for the new open-air plaza adjacent to Wrigley Field that has become a big attraction for Cubs fans.
— Fully integrating Wrigley Field cameras — including 30 new ones installed with a $1 million donation from the Cubs — into the city network of 29,000 public and private cameras.
— Upgrading the public safety radio communications in the on-site Joint Operations Center at Wrigley.
— Outfitting off-duty police officers who moonlight as security officers for the Cubs with “an easily recognizable shirt or uniform, so they are readily identified as security enforcement.”
Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the safety and security of Wrigleyville in general and Cubs fans in particular is “one of our top priorities.”
“In the past year alone, we have committed more than $1 million to expand OEMC’s camera network,invested millions of dollars into additional security personnel, provided canines and metal detection screening capabilities, and added off-hours security on the streets of Lakeview,” Green wrote in an emailed statement.
Green said terrorist attacks in Manchester and the “horrific event” in New York’s Times Square “underscore the need to work together to provide adequate law enforcement.”
“In contrast to Chicago, the city of Boston, of its own accord and without the Red Sox urging, this year closed streets around historicFenway Parkbefore, during and after Red Sox games,” he wrote, noting that Major League Baseball has joined the Cubs in demanding game-day street closings.
If City Hall was truly concerned about security around Wrigley, the concerns would first have been raised with the Cubs — not to the media, a team source said.
“This is not about T-shirts, fencing and posturing. We’ve been talking about security improvements since 2010. Where was the concern then?” the Cubs source said.
For months, the city has been on the defensive on the issue of Wrigley security as the Cubs have intensified their efforts to close Addison and Clark on game days.
But mayoral spokesman Adam Collins fired back Thursday, saying “public safety officials have always exercised the ability toclose Clark and Addison when it’s deemed necessary, and they routinely do so when the sidewalks become crowded. In fact, the streets were closed during the series against the Cardinals last weekend at the direction of city security officials.”The team renewed the street closure request earlier this year after a terrorist attack in London that saw five people killed and dozens injured after an attacker drove a car into a crowd along Westminster Bridge near the British Parliament.
The mayor’s letter has the effect of putting the team on the defensive.
It accuses the billionaire Ricketts family that owns the Cubs and is spending hundreds of millions to renovate Wrigley and develop the land around it of not spending enough on security around the ballpark.
“It is of the utmost importance to me to ensure that we are addressing security around Wrigley Field comprehensively and expeditiously,” Tate-Nadeau wrote. “As you continue to invest in upgrading the fan experience inside the stadium, it is our hope that you will also prioritize security investments in the area.”
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