Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday upped the ante in his security battle with the Cubs, demanding that a team spending millions to build private clubs for season ticket holders invest in security around Wrigley Field.
One day after making six security demands of the Cubs, the mayor said he has summoned Cubs officials to a meeting to discuss improvements.
They include widening the sidewalks along Addison between Sheffield and Clark by “up to four feet to facilitate the installation of security barriers” and installing a “secure fence line between retail shops” and a new open-air plaza adjacent to the stadium that has become a huge attraction for fans.
The city has also accused the Cubs of failing to “immediately report a recent death” at Wrigley and demanded that the Chicago Police Department be notified of any “serious injury” on team property.
Emanuel made no mention of the Cubs’ longstanding and repeatedly rejected demand to close Addison and Clark on game days.
He didn’t have to. The city’s demands have put the mayor’s longtime nemesis, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, on the defensive instead of the other way around.
“The Cubs are investing in the skyboxes. It’s time now to invest in the security around your field. You have a new plaza. You need a new plan for security,” the mayor said.
“With all the type of development that’s happening, we need to have a comprehensive, thorough security plan and all the infrastructure investments along with that security plan to meet a new facility that you’ve invested in. If we’re gonna invest in skyboxes and the enhancements around skyboxes, we need to make sure that we have the enhancements around the security around Wrigley Field.”
Cubs spokesman Julian Green tried his best to put the city back on the defensive–by questioning why the Cubs should be held “responsible for securing the public way.”
“That is the role of the Police Department and all of the public agencies whose mission is to keep these venues safe, which we would expect in return for being the highest-taxed team in baseball,” he wrote in a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Cubs recently donated $1 million to the city to install 30 new surveillance cameras around Wrigley that Emanuel now wants the team to integrate into the city’s vast network of 29,000 public and private cameras.
“We’ve been raising security issues related to the ballpark for years, including closing down Addison and Clark. So we’re very happy that the city now is interested in helping us address concerns we’ve been working on for a number of years,” Green said.
“We submitted a security plan for the plaza on April 10. In fact, the city approved it prior to the opening. We’re happy to provide a copy of that plan in case they lost it. We don’t talk about security. But they know what’s in it.”
For years, the Cubs have been pressuring Emanuel to order the game-day shutdown of Addison and Clark.
The team renewed the street closure request earlier this year after a terrorist attack in London that saw five people killed and 40 others injured after an attacker drove a car into a crowd along Westminister Bridge near the British Parliament.
More recently, the Cubs were emboldened by the city of Boston’s decision to close the streets around Fenway Park and by Sunday’s terrorist attack on London Bridge and the nearby Burrough Market.
Amid persistent opposition from local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and the Wrigleyville residents he represents, Emanuel has repeatedly slammed the door on street closures for fear that it would make the neighborhood’s traffic and congestion problems even worse.
But Green made it clear Friday that the Cubs are not about to drop the issue. He noted that “a number of security experts, including Major League Baseball, have suggested that those streets be closed.”
City Hall noted that Addison and Clark are periodically closed as needed, as they were last weekend to accommodate overflow crowds for the Cubs’ weekend series against their archrivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.