The Ricketts family that owns the Cubs on Wednesday was given the right to serve beer and wine at an outdoor plaza next to Wrigley Field, but it’s not happy about the lengthy list of limitations on when and how it can do that imposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council. In anticipation of Wednesday’s council approval, which went down like clockwork, Cubs spokesman Julian Green took aim at Emanuel’s description of the plaza booze rules as a “compromise.”
“What’s been regarded as a compromise puts in motion a bizarre set of parameters which further restricts us from operating the plaza as an asset that’s accessible to the entire community,” Green stated in an email.
Green took particular exception to a rule that would only allow game and event ticket holders on the plaza when the Cubs are playing or concerts are underway. That, he said, would force the Rickettses “to build a wall to keep out nonticket holders, including Chicago residents and tourists who want to enjoy the game-day experience around Wrigley Field.”
And Green suggested a ban on concerts Sunday through Thursday from Labor Day until June 15 could violate the original 2013 set of agreements with the city under which the team’s owners launched the ongoing $750 million renovation of the ballpark and surrounding area, Green said. “It raises legal questions,” he wrote.
Under the new rules, vendors will be allowed to sell beer and wine, but only on days when games or special events like concerts are held, with strict limits on the hours when it can be dispensed. The rules would be in place for three years, when the topic would be revisited, said Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th.
The alderman said the regulations were crafted as a compromise between the Rickettses and local residents and businesses who were dead-set opposed to the owners’ request to be allowed to serve alcohol year round.
“I think this is an incremental ordinance that allows us to get our feet wet, to crawl before we walk, before we run, and I think there are protections for the residents and the small businesses here,” Tunney said Tuesday. “It’s not all just about Wrigley. … I’m interested in how we navigate what we’ve already approved before we give away the store.”
The new plaza rules would limit beer and wine sales to game days and 12 yearly special events, including five large concerts, expected to draw more than 1,000 people. Only those with tickets to the games or events could buy the booze. It would be sold at kiosks starting two hours before games or events.
Sales would be cut off one hour after day games and at the end of night games. If there’s a rain delay or a game goes into extra innings, sales would have to stop by 11 p.m. at the latest.
During events, alcohol would be cut off one hour before they end. Sales could run no later than 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Events other than large concerts held between Sunday and Thursday would have to end by 9 p.m. from Labor Day through June 15.
At night, the plaza would have to close 45 minutes after the end of a game or event.