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Green understands battles Cubs are waging

Former top executive was 1st to engage Wrigleyville residents over changes to ballpark in modern era

Fred Mitchell

8:55 PM CDT, April 12, 2013

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Dallas Green was the first Cubs executive to deal directly with the concerns of Wrigleyville residents and merchants.

As team president in the late '80s, Green now marvels that not much has changed with regard to the two entities co-existing peacefully and profitably.

"It sounds like the same issues from then," Green, 78, told me Friday.

"The fans and the people of Wrigleyville have to understand that you have a chance to lose that ballpark if you don't give the Cubs a chance to operate in today's baseball world."

Known then for his blunt manner and profanity-laced outbursts, Green led the charge to have lights installed in Wrigley Field in 1988, knowing that the future profitability of the franchise depended on it. The current Cubs management wants to add more night games.

"The lights had to be brought in and now they want to play more night games like everybody else does. The lights were paramount (installed in '88 after he had left) because baseball is going to go forward with or without the Cubs at Wrigley Field," he said. "(Major League Baseball) is led by television, and television doesn't like day baseball. It never has and it never will. I know that all of the (proposed Wrigley Field renovations and) additions will undoubtedly put some hardships on the community for a while. Wrigleyville has changed so much over the years, and probably for the better. "

Some rooftop owners, sports bars and businesses around the ballpark have voiced disapproval that the Cubs renovations, including a proposed new parking garage, will harm their establishments.

"I like Murphy's (Bleachers). They were more on our side than they were against us, in my opinion," Green said. "It has been so long ago, but the (alderman) gave us hell and back. They had to straddle the fence pretty good and take care of the constituents, obviously, in Wrigleyville. It wasn't all chummy-chummy."

Green could write a book about his career in baseball as a player, manager, general manager and president. In fact, he has. It is called "The Mouth That Roared" and it will be released May 1.

"If you lose the ballpark, all of those businesses are going to go to hell and back," Green said. "There are only so many taxes you can put on Wrigley Field anymore. It's awful to think about, but sooner or later, they will have to think about a new ballpark. And it would be very difficult to build one right where Wrigley Field is right now. So Wrigleyville has a chance to lose the ballpark, and lose the Cubs. Parking is obviously paramount, especially around that area."

Rosemont has floated the idea of luring the Cubs. In the late '80s, Green threatened to move the club to Arlington Heights or Schaumburg.

"Back in those days, it probably was more of a ploy than anything, except that obviously we felt that when we made the playoffs in '84 we got hurt because we didn't have the lights," Green said.