The Cubs and local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) are at odds, yet again, and the home opener at Wrigley Field is still more than three weeks away.
This time, the point of contention is the “tent and curtain” over a parking lot – located at 1102 W. Waveland near the local firehouse – used by Cubs players, their wives and family members.
In each of the last three seasons, Tunney signed off on the tent permit, allowing the Cubs to provide a higher level of security for their millionaire players.
That allowed super-stars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jon Lester and their teammates and family members to arrive and depart the stadium without being hounded by autograph seekers, hecklers or pick-pockets.
Now, Tunney has done an about-face. He’s told the Cubs he plans to oppose the tent permit because the neighbors don’t want it.
“He’s approved this permit for the last three years. There can be no other reasons for him to oppose this permit beyond getting ready to go into an election year,” said Cubs spokesman Julian Green.
If Tunney blocks the permit and City Hall doesn’t overrule him, Cubs players will be in danger, Green said.
“We want to continue using this tent because it provides an additional layer of security for our players and their families,” Green said Wednesday.
“Without the tent, anyone from any area around that Blue Lot could walk into the lot. These are players who obviously make a lot of money. To have them exposed like that puts them at risk — before and after the game….There is no current barrier that protects the perimeter of the lot. This is about protecting our players and their families and personnel from individuals who want to commit a crime of opportunity, especially after night games or when players leave their cars when they’re on the road.”
Tunney refused to comment on the tent dispute.
In a March 12 letter to the aldermen, sixteen local residents urged Tunney to deny a permit for the “tent and curtain on the Blue Lot.”
“Since October of 2015 and the subsequent two seasons, the erected tent has been the cause of many problems,” the letter obtained by the Sun-Times states.
“Neighbors have been burdened with difficulty accessing their garages, dangerous traffic encounters, exorbitant noise created from the tent on windy days and the unsightly nature of it.”
The letter goes on to request that Tunney oppose any permit for the placement of garbage dumpsters and garbage truck removal on the south end of the Blue Lot and that trailers used to “house players wives, families and VIP’s be removed” from the lot.
Trailers are no longer needed “with the addition of a 125,000 sq. ft. office tower, a 238,000 sq. foot hotel and a renovated caretakers cottage” along with Cubs ownership of at least 11 properties along Waveland and Sheffield,” the letter states.
“Not only is the disposal and compaction a tremendous noise nuisance. The dumpsters are an eyesore,” the letter states.
Green countered that the Cubs have been “more than accommodating” to local residents.
Although some of the garages were “built up to the alley’s edge,” which Green claimed is “not according to city code,” the Cubs nevertheless agreed to move the tent “back from the property line” to allow those neighbors to more easily access their garages.
“The complaints they’re making are based on their garages being built out of code. The first question is, how were these units and outside able to build outside of city code in the first place?” Green said.
He added, “Suggesting something is an eyesore because your next door neighbor would prefer to look at something else on your property is not grounds for a denial.”
The tent issue is just the latest in the long-running saga between Tunney and the Cubs, who have argued over everything from Wrigley renovation to the rigid rules that apply to the outdoor plaza adjacent to the stadium and the team’s repeatedly refused request to close Addison and Clark on game days for fear of exacerbating congestion and alienating residents.