Chicago Cubs: Street closure proposal met with anger
Don’t look now, the big bad bullies are at it again. The Chicago Cubs may have finally crossed the line in their continuous negotiations with the city and the Wrigleyville neighborhood.
With the latest act of hostility, the Cubs have requested the city to allow them to shut down Clark and Addison streets on game days.
It comes to no surprise that local residents and community leaders are up in arms over the proposed street closures. While some of these concerns have validity, I’m still struck by the apparent disregard for the amount of influence the Cubs have on the surrounding area.
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As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman, community leaders including Alderman Tom Tunney feel that residents and city have bent over backward enough for the franchise and the Cubs should be happy with what has been already approved. You can read the Sun-Times story here.
Jim Spencer, President of the East Lake View neighborhoods didn’t sugar coat his feelings on the subject. “At some point, and I think we’re at that point, the city has to tell the Cubs, `Don’t bother coming back with any more stuff because you’ve already gotten way more than you deserve”, Spencer told the Sun-Times.
Never bite the hand that feeds you comes to mind here. It’s fair to assume that the growing needs of a major professional sports franchise can have some inconvenience tied to it, but let us not pretend that the Cubs are staying in Wrigleyville only by the good graces of its neighbors.
What Wrigleyville has become is because of this team. The concentration of bars, restaurants, shops and other nightlife has been a direct result from the attraction the Cubs, and more specifically, the historic ballpark has provided through the years.
The Cubs have created commerce by their presence, bringing countless jobs and opportunities other city neighborhoods would be begging for. For someone like Spencer, who represents the area, to decide the Cubs have gotten more than they deserve is not just inaccurate, but an insult to anyone associated with the team.
"“At some point, and I think we’re at that point, the city has to tell the Cubs, `Don’t bother coming back with any more stuff because you’ve already gotten way more than you deserve” ~Jim Spencer"
Chicago Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney has asked for the additional space for security reasons. Whether this is for security or some type of private venture is no real concern to me. This is a business, and the Cubs know what they need to compete with the other teams in this league.
It’s actually remarkable how efficient the Cubs have been given how their location doesn’t allow for the type of operational freedoms that most of the other teams enjoy.
Residents in the surrounding area have the right to express concerns that may alter the living condition, but they should also recognize why their neighborhood is so attractive.
Choosing a place to live means you investigate the neighborhoods and determine if any factors could make your living arrangement unacceptable. You can’t live steps away from the most iconic stadium in all of sports which alone draws thousands of tourists a year, and complain when changes must be made to stay competitive in the changing landscape of professional sports.
My biggest concern with the Cubs decision to stay in the Wrigleyville neighborhood was the friction between the team and the community. Wrigley Field is long overdue for some changes. In an effort to win a championship, the Cubs recognized that the existing amenities were not conducive to the modern-day athlete.
They need new player facilities and ways of producing revenue to pay for all of the new equipment.
Major League franchises are moving into a direction where they control their own self-sustaining economies. The St. Louis Cardinals recently opened Ballpark Village, which is a small city within itself. The Cardinals have created a nice complement to their ballpark, which they deemed vital to the strength of their franchise on the business side.
The Cubs need to continue doing what is best for them as a business and not just as a team. The neighborhood should be thanking the Cubs for staying in Wrigleyville instead of opting for a fresh start elsewhere.
As a fan, I want this team to do what they feel is important to the long-term success of the franchise. The Chicago Cubs are the driving force of the neighborhood, and should continue to act like it.