Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says his main priority has been ensuring a high quality of life for those who live near the ballpark. Mary Ann Ahern reports.
With the clock ticking toward April 1, the Chicago Cubs' self-imposed deadline to announce a renovation plan, Ald. Tom Tunney on Monday defended himself from those who say he's been obstructing negotiations.
"My concern has always been public safety, lack of parking, and those issues that are critical for those who live around the ballpark and those who vote me into office, not the sportswriters," he said.
The Chicago Cubs earlier this year proposed a five-year, $300 million plan to renovate the Friendly Confines. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team was willing to pay for it but wants the city to relax some rules on advertising, more concerts, and more night games.
But rooftop owners, who currently share 17 percent of their profits with the team, expressed concern that any new billboards on the stadium would block their views and devastate their business. The Wrigley Rooftop Association offered a compromise -- digital screens on their buildings instead of the stadium itself -- but team officials weren't fond of that idea.
"We're hoping there's an agreement that doesn't put us out of business," said Beth Murphy of Murphy's Bleachers, classifying the process as "nerve-wracking."
As he did last week, Tunney said he doesn't favor tearing down the iconic scoreboard but has suggested moving it to the left center "where it historically was," he said.
And regarding that talk of relocating the Cubs to Rosemont or DuPage County? The alderman insists the negotiations are ongoing.
"I've got to find a reasonable balance," he said.
Does Rosemont make sense?
"I'm not going to comment on that whatsoever," he said. "I think the uniqueness is really the ballpark and the neighborhood."
In a statement, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the organization share's Tunney's concerns for the community and have been "working diligently with him and the mayor to resolve the remaining issues."