The long-anticipated plaza at Wrigley Field will open this summer, with the Chicago Cubs hosting events “every day” in the future, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said Monday.
“We want to give someone a reason to be outside Wrigley Field every day,” Ricketts told City Club Chicago. “Really, it’s about doing something every day.”
The plaza, which is operated through the Ricketts family development firm, Hickory Street Capital, will open mid-season. Events this year should include a farmers market, family movie nights and “some little music shows,” Ricketts said.
During a 30-minute speech at the of City Club Chicago, Ricketts touched on the progress made on the three goals the team owners set after purchasing the Cubs and Wrigley Field in 2009. While they can now check off winning a World Series, Ricketts said there’s been lots of movement on the remaining goals to preserve and improve Wrigley Field and to be a good neighbor for the city.
Since the Cubs won their first World Series championship in a century, the Commissioner’s Trophy has traveled to the White House and the Dominican Republic, logging 16,000 miles as more than 250,000 fans flocked to catch a glimpse of it.
Wrigley Field will also host nine concerts this year, the most ever at the ballpark since it began hosting concerts in 2005. Last year’s shows brought $2 million in amusement taxes to the city, and Ricketts said he expects that to nearly double for 2017.
“We continue to attract the best artists in the world,” Ricketts said. “Wrigley is just a great place to watch a concert, with a really magical, warm vibe you can’t get at any other outdoor show in the U.S.” In neighborhood surveys, 80 percent of respondents said they enjoyed the summer concert series.
The city’s night game ordinance limits how many concerts the Cubs can host in Wrigley Field, although it allows the team to substitute additional concerts for some of its 43 allotted night games.
The plaza will have its own set of restrictions when it opens this summer, as decided with a contentious city ordinance passed in June.
The ordinance requires tickets to access the plaza during games and ballpark concerts, which Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said was a vital component in keeping ballpark capacity at about 41,000.
It also enforces the limit of 12 special events on the plaza per year, with an added restriction on small concerts. Out of the 12 events, only five can be concerts.
Other special events are those with attendance of at least 1,000 people, amplified sound or alcohol sales. That would also include allowing fans on the plaza to watch away playoff games if alcohol is sold, Tunney said at the time.
Ricketts also debuted a new advertising campaign centering on the new slogan, “That’s Cub.” The phrase began as Cubs coaches worked with minor league players on fostering a sense of camaraderie and team unity.
“When they saw a player do something selfless, they’d say, ‘That’s totally Cub,'” Ricketts said.