Cubs reject Rahm’s Wrigley plaza deal, ‘Negotiations are over’
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel has brokered a deal that would allow the Cubs to sell beer and wine at an open-air plaza adjacent to Wrigley Field, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned, but the team says it won’t accept it.
“We are miles from a deal that includes these terms,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. “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.”
A top mayoral aide, who spoke on the condition of not being named, shot back, “Negotiations are over.”
Emanuel’s proposed compromise would have given Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) many of the safeguards he wants to prevent the plaza from turning into what Wrigleyville residents have called the “Midwest’s largest beer garden.”
Liquor sales would be limited to beer and wine, sold only during “stadium events” such as games and concerts and at a maximum of 12 special events a year, each requiring a 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 and 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 during the handful of Wrigley concerts and the dozen special events would start when the festivities begin and end one hour before they end.
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 seventh-inning cutoff and no more than eight special events a year. The Cubs demanded longer hours and 15 special events.
“We are giving them a little bit more hours than the seventh inning, but I still think it protects the atmosphere around Wrigley and will allow us to try to disperse attendees, get them to their cars and also patronize other businesses,” Tunney said.
He said the “most important thing” is the requirement that only ticket-holders have “in-and-out-privileges” on the plaza on game and concert days.
“We’re not adding thousands of people who don’t have a ticket,” Tunney said.
Emanuel said the tickets-only policy was modeled after Yawkey Way outside Boston’s Fenway Park.
“We’re staying close to that as our North Star,” the mayor said.
Wrigleyville residents have accused Emanuel of going too far by giving the Cubs the go-ahead to play more night games, put up two video scoreboards and four other outfield signs and extend the Wrigley footprint onto public streets and sidewalks without compensating taxpayers.
At Emanuel’s behest, the City Council also approved the Cubs’ plan to put up more signs at the new hotel, office building and plaza.
But the mayor said he found an appropriate balance after slamming the door on a public subsidy for the Wrigley renovation project.
“This is another step forward in the ability of the owners to modernize Wrigley Field but do it in a way that’s respectful of the neighborhood,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times.
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 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. weekdays and midnight on weekends. The patio license also would allow the sale of mixed drinks.
Tunney countered by proposing even stricter rules, which Tom Ricketts, the Cubs chairman, refused to accept.
Ricketts has offered to limit liquor sales to beer and wine but, beyond that, said last week he’s through negotiating.
“It’s our property,” Ricketts said. “It’s what we negotiate.
“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.”
Midway through the privately financed project, though, Ricketts might not be in a position to dictate terms if he wants to get the plaza up and running in time for the postseason.