The Cubs made the choice to trade concerts for night games at Wrigley Field because they don’t have to share the take with other teams — and now, they must “live with the consequences,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.
Emanuel flatly rejected a request by his longtime nemesis — Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney — to lift the cap on night games at Wrigley to allow for the 54 games under the lights that most other Major League teams play.
The team was offered more “evening opportunities” and “they chose to use those evening opportunities for concerts. … They could have used it for night games. But then, they would have to share it with Major League Baseball. The concerts they keep all for themselves like they do the beer on the plaza,” the mayor said.
“They made those choices. Now, they want to change the consequences of the choices they made.”
The mayor noted that the combination of night games and concerts totals 46, which comes “really close to the 54” that Kenney has requested.
“They could do more night games, but they didn’t want to do it. The reason they don’t want to do it — Crane Kenney himself said — [was] because they could make more money in the same way they decided to spend more money on skyboxes rather than on security and then ask the taxpayers to pay for that choice,” the mayor said.
“No. You make those choices. You live with the consequences of the choices. That’s how this works.”
Cubs spokesman Julian Green responded to the mayor’s rejection with a renewed argument for 11 more night games.
“Having to choose between a night game and a concert puts us at a firm disadvantage compared to other teams in major league baseball and other venues in our city,” Green wrote in an email.
“It’s like choosing between a foul ball and a strike. No matter which one you pick, they both count against you when you’re trying to marshal resources to compete against 29 other teams.”
Kenney has long been a thorn in Emanuel’s side for going toe-to-toe with the city in the bargaining that preceded the landmark deal that paved the way for the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field and develop the land around it.
More recently, they have been protagonists in a battle about the city’s demand for security improvements around Wrigley and the Cubs’ oft-rejected demand to close Clark and Addison on game days.
Kenney opened a new front in his ongoing battle against City Hall during a radio interview Monday that preceded the opening game of the Crosstown Showdown against the White Sox.
It happened when the Cubs exec was asked why the first two games between the Cubs and Sox at Wrigley Field were day games.
“The answer is the same answer it’s been since I’ve been here, which is we don’t have enough night games,” he told WSCR-AM (670).
Kenney complained that the Cubs are “one of the few teams that not only has to beat everyone in our division, we also have to beat the city that we play in to try and win games.”
He added that other owners “look at Chicago and say they just can’t understand it. … At some point we’d love to not be handicapped, as no other team in baseball is, by the number of night games you play.”
On Wednesday, Emanuel had the final word addressed directly to Kenney.
“I told you when you sat in my office and we worked through issues that had stymied Wrigley for decades and we finally broke through,” the mayor recalled.
“You operate a baseball field in the middle of a neighborhood. We will help you … do the improvements you want to see at Wrigley Field. But I ask of you to be a good neighbor in Wrigleyville. And more night games is not a good neighbor attitude.”
Green said the team’s ” good neighbor attitude is affirmed” by the millions of dollars it has invested in the community.
That includes a recent $1 million contribution to security cameras and a $1 billion stadium renovation/neighborhood development that has created “thousands” of jobs and will generate $30 million in annual tax revenue for the city.