This is the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field and the neighborhood around the ballpark has been called “Wrigleyville” for decades.
But in listening to some of the bitching and moaning from neighborhood residents during a public meeting concerning the Cubs’ plans for renovating and improving Wrigley Field on Monday night, you might get the impression that some had no idea they’d be living near a ballpark when they moved into the area.
I’m sorry, people, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You moved into the area because it was a lively, vibrant neighborhood. You can’t complain now that crowds gather 81 days a year when the Cubs play home games.
The complaints aired at the meeting, though, were even more petty and ridiculous than that. In reality, the Cubs’ proposal that will be voted on by the city council on Thursday will have minimal, if any, impact on the neighborhood because it doesn’t increase seating capacity at all.
Most of the improvements will be inside the ballpark, including a series of signs and scoreboards to increase venue for the team. The proposal also includes plans for turning the vacant triangle-shaped lot off the third-base side of the ballpark into a fan plaza with a structure on it and building a hotel and retail shops on Clark and Addison across from the ballpark.
The renovation actually should be a positive for the area – especially since the Cubs are paying for everything and no public money is involved – but that didn’t stop people from voicing their opposition.
One woman interviewed by WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago called the renovation plans “an assault on our neighborhood.”
Another woman interviewed said: “I’d really like to keep with the culture and community that we’ve had and I think too much signage will take away from that.”
I’m sorry, but who the hell are you? What makes you think you have any right to tell the Cubs how many signs they can have inside their ballpark?
This is precisely the attitude I talked about a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about the controversy concerning the sign on the Trump building. Some people are against everything if it doesn’t directly benefit them.
In fairness to that woman and others, they are merely following the example of Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, who said during Monday’s meeting that some of the Cubs’ plans “fly in the face of what I believe is being a good neighbor.” He also said, “The neighborhood has rights also.”
Tunney is far from a voice of reason in the relationship between the Cubs and the neighborhood. He has been against everything the Cubs have proposed since he’s been in office.
My message to Tunney and every Wrigleyville resident is this:
You can’t move next to a ballpark and complain that the team is doing things that all other 29 MLB teams routinely do. It’s like the people that move near O’Hare because the houses are cheaper and then complain that the planes are noisy.
If the Wrigleyville residents want to blame someone for the additional signs in the Cubs’ revised plans, blame the owners of the rooftop clubs across the street from the ballpark.
A year ago, the Cubs agreed to limit their plans to one scoreboard in left field and one sign in right field, but the rooftop owners still threatened to sue. After months of negotiations went nowhere, the Cubs announced in May that they were going back to their original plans. If they were going to end up in court anyway, the Cubs said, they might as well use the design they prefer.
The rooftop owners announced last week that they would agree not to sue if the Cubs went back to last year’s plan. Too late, the Cubs said, and they continue to push to get the new plan approved.
I applaud that decision by the Cubs. There should be a price to pay for dicking around and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.
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The following video is a "60 Minutes Sports" feature on the Wrigley Field renovation plans:
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