By Ameet Sachdev and Hal Dardick
2:58 PM CST, February 13, 2013
The Chicago Cubs' push for more night games in the upcoming season could be in jeopardy, as Ald. Tom Tunney said he would not introduce legislation at today's City Council meeting.
The team has asked Tunney, whose 44th ward encompasses Wrigley Field, to ease limits on night games, late Friday afternoon games, concerts and other non-game events that are part of a neighborhood protection ordinance. The Cubs want more flexibility in scheduling games and events to increase revenues as the owners of the team seek to embark on a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field.
The Cubs currently schedule 27 night games and can add up to three more for national television purposes. The exact number of new night games the club seeks is unclear, but the team is eager to have more night games as soon as the upcoming season. The timetable depends on getting city approval as soon as possible so that Major League Baseball can adjust the 2013 schedule, which already has been unveiled.
The team had asked Tunney to introduce a measure amending the neighborhood protection ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting. But the alderman wants the Cubs to address parking, traffic and security issues in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.
The lack of a proposal today suggests Tunney is in no rush to give the Cubs what they want. Additional night games are just one of the changes the Cubs seek that are tied to Wrigley renovations. The team also wants the city to lift landmark restrictions on the stadium to allow for more advertising and change zoning around Wrigley to allow for pre-game street festivals.
Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Tunney said they wanted one comprehensive deal to rehab Wrigley and would not proceed first with just an ordinance to add more night games.
“It’s all of one piece,” the mayor said. “We’re going to do this comprehensively.”
He also suggested that a Major League Baseball deadline for scheduling night games provides pressure to seal a deal.
“The individual parties know there’s a deadline, because there is an actual one for them,” Emanuel said.
“But I will say one word to the parties,” he added. “There’s an agreement to be had. It’s right there. All you need is a little leadership and a little will. It’s right there at the table.”
A spokesman for the Ricketts family, the Cubs’ owners, said negotiations on several issues continue.
“Everybody has a sense of urgency,” said spokesman Dennis Culloton. “The team is still hoping to get things resolved by Opening Day at the latest.”
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