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Tunney defends rejection of tent permit on Wrigley lot used by Cubs players

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Thursday he rejected the Cubs application for a permit to put a tent over Wrigley Field parking lot used by Cubs players because the unsightly solution was meant to be temporary and area residents are fed up with it. | Sun-Times file photo

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Thursday he rejected the Cubs application for a permit to put a tent over a Wrigley Field parking lot used by Cubs players because the unsightly solution was meant to be temporary and area residents are fed up with it.

If the Cubs really need an “added layer of security” so millionaire players and their wives can arrive and depart the stadium without being hounded by autograph seekers, hecklers or pickpockets, Tunney said the Cubs should build a parking structure on the Blue Lot located at 1102 W. Waveland.

“This is a makeshift tent. This is a temporary solution. It was always meant to be a temporary solution. They need to come forward with a plan for redevelopment of that site for player parking. Same with the garbage. How about garbage at the end of your block. I mean — are you kidding?” Tunney said.

“If it was in your living room and it’s up there 200 days a year, that’s a problem. It’s also a temporary tent that needs to be renewed. We have been very patient. They need to have a comprehensive plan. The neighborhood wants them to put [the parking] underneath. If they want to put a building on that lot, a more permanent structure, [that’s fine]. It could be a one-story, nice modular building landscaped properly.”

Tunney refused to budge when told that the Cubs believe their players would be easy prey without a tent to conceal their comings and goings.

“They’ve been there for 35-plus years. That’s their responsibility. If they want to protect their players, come up with a structure we can work with. But this makeshift tent is not feasible. We have been more than patient,” he said.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the Cubs have “always wanted a long-term solution” on the Blue Lot and proposed one, only to get the thumbs-down from Tunney.

“The long-term plan was a structure that would enclose the garbage and some of the parking on the lot. He flatly rejected that plan over and over again. It’s an election-year flip-flop. Now, he supports the structure that he rejected before,” Green said.

If Tunney follows through on his threat to block the permit, the Cubs will have no choice but to appeal to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to overrule the local alderman.

That’s something the mayor has repeatedly refused to do during the long-running saga between Tunney and the Cubs, on issues ranging from Wrigley renovation and the team’s plea for additional night games, to the rigid rules that apply to the outdoor plaza adjacent to the stadium, and the Cubs’ repeatedly rejected request to close Addison and Clark on game days.

“We’re three weeks away from the (April 9 home opener) and there’s no human way possible we can get a structure built in three weeks. So, we need this tent,” Green said.

As for Tunney’s claim that the neighbors’ patience has run out, Green said “no other neighbor has been more accommodating than us.”

“We’ve addressed a number of concerns with that lot, including adding landscaping, including moving our tent further into our property line to accommodate neighbors getting into their garages,” Green said. “We’ve been more than accommodating and patient on our property. We’re now going to file the (application) and appeal to the city to approve the permit.”

Tunney bristled at Green’s suggestion that the alderman was guilty of an “election-year flip-flop” on a tent permit he approved for the last three seasons.

“We’ve been working nonstop with the Cubs on all of the different issues,” he said. “You know me for 15 years. I consistently work on behalf of the residents and the businesses that surround that ballpark. This is year three [of the tent]. This is not impatience. And it’s not an election-year issue.”