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Tunney remains opposed to street closures around Wrigley

Cub fans jam the street outside Wrigley Field waiting for the outcome of World Series game 7 last year. File Photo. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Thursday he remains opposed to the Cubs’ plan to shut down Addison and Clark on game days at Wrigley Field — even after this week’s terrorist attack in London strengthened the argument for it.

“These are major arterial streets. As long as it’s safe to do so, I want my streets to remain open,” Tunney said.

The alderman noted that the Cubs’ march to their first World Series title since 1908 cost Chicago taxpayers $18.8 million in overtime.

“Part of it is … the cost of whatever we’re doing. Increased enforcement, increased security. Who’s gonna bear that cost?” Tunney said, referring to the cost of permanent street closures.

“Life is about balancing safety and economics. We work very closely with the police department. They are the ultimate arbiter of when these streets come down. We have many, many meetings on this issue — with Homeland Security, FBI and local officials. At the end of the day, they’re the ones that make the call. Not the Cubs.”

The London attack that left five people dead and 40 others injured began with a terrorist driving a car into a crowd along Westminster Bridge near the British Parliament.

It marked the fifth time in recent years that a vehicle was used as a weapon in a terrorist attack. The other instances occurred in Jerusalem; at the Christkindlmarket in Berlin; at Ohio State University and in Nice, France.

The mayor’s office was non-committal when asked whether those terrorist attacks around the world changed the landscape in favor of street closures around Wrigley.

“Public safety is everyone’s top priority, which is why the city and the Cubs made a number of security enhancements before the 2016 baseball season — and to be sure there are more to come as the world around us changes,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s communications director Adam Collins wrote in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The decisions about how to ensure public safety in and around Wrigley will be made by the professionals at police and [the Office of Emergency Management and Communications]. They have been working closely with the team and Alderman Tunney on a plan for security improvements for the upcoming season. Those conversations are ongoing, and we’ll be ready for opening day.”

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said team officials “have continued to stress the importance of safety and security” at a landmark stadium that remains “one of the city’s largest tourist attractions.”

“We will continue to work with the City to ensure we create a safe environment for our fans and residents while considering the impact to the neighborhood,” Green wrote in an email.

Amid opposition from Tunney and Wrigleyville residents, Emanuel has twice slammed the door on the Cubs’ request to shut down Addison and Clark on game days at Wrigley.

Instead, the mayor agreed last spring to widen the sidewalks along Addison and install plastic barriers — known as “bollards” — to prevent vehicles from getting close to the stadium.

“The world’s changed. It’s not just at airports. There’s public transportation. There are places — not just Wrigley Field but other venues that have a lot of people” that are now security risks, the mayor said then.

“There are ways to achieve the security without shutting down Clark and Addison. Widening the sidewalks. Putting the bollards up can achieve the same type of security.”

The city has already installed concrete barricades to temporarily extend the sidewalk onto Addison as part of a pilot project.

Wrigley was the last stadium in Major League Baseball to install metal detectors. During the playoffs and World Series, there was an increasingly large security bubble around Wrigley.

At the Cubs convention in mid-January, Cubs business president Crane Kenney said he was “optimistic” the Cubs could land the All-Star Game at Wrigley Field in 2020, the year the Wrigley renovation plan is expected to be finished.

But, he warned that security around the ballpark was a central issue with Major League Baseball when it comes to awarding an All-Star Game to Wrigley.

Asked then if terrorist truck attacks in Europe in recent months has made the city more receptive to street closures, Kenney said, “Put it this way: The conversations have gotten real. The theoretical risk of maybe three or four years ago has become very practical. You look at what happened in Berlin [in December] and you look at what happened right after that attack, which was that the Christmas market in Chicago all of a sudden [had] barriers.”