North side Chicago alderman says he wants growth and development around Wrigley Field, but not at the expense of ignoring the needs and wishes of those who live and work nearby. Mary Ann Ahern explains.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to renovate the area around Wrigley Field is getting a lukewarm reception from one alderman.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) sent a letter to Wrigleyville area residents Monday, notifying them no agreement has been reached in a deal between the City of Chicago and the Cubs.
"While I support job growth and development within our ward, I was elected to represent the residents and to ensure the overall well-being of the Lakeview community," Tunney writes.
Tunney took a trip to Boston's Fenway Park last week to see firsthand how renovations there look and feel.
"I think Fenway is a very cool stadium," Tunney told NBC Chicago. However the alderman was not impressed with the large billboards around the park. He pointed out Fenway is in a more industrial area than Lakeview.
Chicago's proposed plan would be similar to Fenway's. It boils down to more advertising at the field, possibly billboards and a Jumbotron, and closing Waveland and Sheffield for street festivals during every home game. The proposal also includes more concerts, football games and possibly more night games.
But Tunney wants to make sure residents have their say.
"If the Ricketts family wishes to improve and expand Wrigley Field using amusement tax dollars, I have several priorities that should be addressed," he wrote in his letter.
Among those points are a limit to the number of night games, dedicated police for all Wrigley Field events, a limit on street closures, a long-term agreement between the Cubs and rooftop owners, and a commitment to restore the Sheridan stop on the CTA Red Line.
"In my view, all of us involved in the negotiations should be concentrating our efforts on a plan that takes all of Wrigley Field's and Lakeview's unique qualities into perspective," Tunney writes.
Tunney said he's committed to "a solution for the Cubs, the city and most important the community." But he adds, "I don't feel a sense of urgency."
Emanuel told reporters last month an agreement between the city and Cubs is getting closer. The mayor reportedly proposed a new renovation plan that would relax the landmark status of the field, paving the way for up to $150 million in new sponsorship and advertising.
Still, Emanuel said, taxpayers are his first priority.
"But always remember I'm here to represent the taxpayers, not subsidize private investors with public dollars."