Last Sunday, in Chicago, we are kicking off the annual Wells Street and Old Town Art Fairs with brunch at Orso's on Wells.
My Sports Guy is perusing sports news on his I-Pad over omelettes, when he starts relating the latest brouhaha involving the Ricketts (owners of the Chicago Cubs) and the Wrigleyville Alderman Tom Tunney (or Tom the Terrible Tunney, as I lovingly refer to him).
The 44th Ward Alderman has been the nemesis of the Ricketts from the get go - like a big red zit that you get on Prom night. If only it would go away.
“Geeezzz, listen to this”, My Guy is clearly miffed.
He reads the gist of the article which is about a press release that describes a list of restrictions that Tunney and the city want to impose on the sale of alcohol and other issues on the new Wrigley Plaza.
(The Plaza is being constructed adjacent to the stadium, and promises not only to be for the baseball crowd - but a site for winter ice skating, a farmers market, yoga classes, movies and more). How great is that?
Our Mayor Rahm Emanuel has weighed in on this – but the Ricketts were withholding comment and appeared to not be on board with the ridiculous terms…
Such as, admittance to the Plaza “only for BASEBALL TICKET HOLDERS” on Game Days.
WHAT!?! Won’t the ticket holders be inside the stadium watching the game????
Or…”only for X amount of non-game day events…
Or…”only for one hour (alcohol sales) after the game ends”…for afternoon games
Or…”ending(alcohol sales) immediately when the game is over”…for night games.
(What if it's a close or tied game - are you going to leave just to get a beer in the Plaza before the game ends?
Or, how about THIS SCENARIO:
Cubs Beer Vendor in the new Wrigley Plaza:
“OK Guys, need to see your ID’s.” OK, check.
“Need to see your game day tickets”. OK, check.
“Next, are your belly buttons ‘inny’s’ or ‘outty’s”?
Cubs Fans: “HUH!?!”
Beer Vendor: “We only sell beer to outty’s on weekends and inny’s on weekdays. City rule for crowd control.”
(OK – not true – but you get the point.)
All right, back to Sunday afternoon.
Brunch is done and My Guy has somewhat finagled his way out of enjoying the art/ceramics/jewelry and more displayed by the literally hundreds of exhibitors lining the street. He is headed over somewhere to watch the Cubs game. Whatever.
I am browsing the booths, people watching, running into old friends, and thoroughly enjoying myself.
Then, a light bulb moment.
I realize, that there are many food vendors interspersed throughout, of course.
And, what else are they selling?
Alcohol. Booze of all kinds. Beer, wine, sangria, pina coladas and more.
People are walking around with their drinks in hand, in their disposable cups, enjoying the total experience. No "rowdies" in sight. No projectile vomiting observed.
Is it a “Family” event?
Of course! There are couples and singles pushing strollers or with toddlers in hand.
There is a Kid’s Craft area and a blow-up house they can merrily bounce in.
And, noted that although there are attendees of all ages, the majority are younger – probably 20’s and 30’s. Obviously, the same demographic as the Cubs Fans that would be frequenting the new Wrigley Plaza.
And guess what – it’s a modern day Norman Rockwell scene – hundreds of adults and children having a great time while they are also eating and yes --- imagine this --- DRINKING.
And guess what again ---even though they are selling street food and drinks galore--- it seems to be that all the restaurants and bars, indoors and out, are also jammed. CHA CHING, CHA CHING for the owners, right?
Also, shoppers are streaming in and out of the shops and boutiques and clearly money is flowing.
And guess what again --- there is a huge Music Stage with live music and entertainment all weekend long. What fun!
Wouldn’t this be REALLY SIMILAR to the concept of the Rickett’s Wrigley Plaza? Baseball and Events attracting locals and tourists to their great hub?
Now, guess again --- how many neighborhood festivals and street fairs take place in the city of Chicago like this each year?
OVER 400 – All with Merchandising, Entertainment, Food and DRINKS – OVER 400!
If this alcohol DILEMMA was real - I guess the city would have nipped that in the bud a long time ago.
Wait, one more tidbit…a new ordinance has been introduced by our Mayor to allow patrons who buy alcoholic drinks from vendors on NAVY PIER to soon be able to walk up and down the Pier sipping away! (Currently only allowed in indoor restaurants or on their restaurant patios.) Perfect.
So, I ask you, what is The Sky is Falling attitude about imposing absurd restrictions on the Ricketts in THEIR Plaza? They are investing $750 million of CUBS money in the whole project - no taxpayer dollars whatsoever.
The Ricketts are the best thing that could have ever happened to Wrigleyville and the Cubs. Be grateful.
And to those opposing nearby residents that are HORRIFIED that the Plaza could become "The World's Largest Beer Garden" (Sigh)...
Didn't you notice that when you moved into this historic neighborhood that there were hundreds of bars and restaurants and beer gardens in the streets around the Friendly Confines?
Didn't you notice that throngs of people come from all over to this area to have a good time?
The Stadium has been there for over 100 years.
Do you wish that the Cubs were in last place instead of first place so that there would be less crowds of exuberant fans?
Just my opinion, that these grumpy curmudgeons need to move to some bucolic suburb ASAP. Problem solved.
And, in case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot more problems in the world right now than the Cubs owners selling a little beer and wine. I rest my case.
So, please Tom the Terrible Tunney and the Powers That Be – give it a rest.
And in the meantime, head out to a Street Fair and enjoy a Cold One - bring the family. It's a lovely time.
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