Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs Finalize Friday Start Times After Night Game Ordinance Passes

The Cubs announced Friday that four upcoming Friday afternoon games will start at 3:05pm CDT after receiving clearance from the City Council. The four games, previously listed with a start time of TBD on most schedules, will now begin with the later 3:05pm start time … July 5 (Pirates), July 12 (Cardinals), August 2 (Dodgers) and August 16 (Cardinals).

The announcement comes in the wake of the City Council voting unanimously (50-0) on the night game ordinance that allows the Cubs to schedule up to 35 night games and play five more night games, for a total of 40, in case of Major League Baseball requirements. The new night game ordinance also allows the Cubs to schedule six 3:05pm games on Friday afternoon beginning next season. The Cubs were able to change four of those Friday start times for this season.

The new ordinance gives the Cubs the option of requesting six more night games from the city if Major League Baseball asks for the dates.

While the new night game ordinance appears to be a win for the Chicago Cubs, the team is not happy with the limitations still imposed on them. The Cubs had asked for 54 night games when the negotiation process began, which would get the Cubs up to league average for night games, and 12 Friday afternoon 3:05pm starts.

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called the passing of the new ordinance a win-win as well as a compromise for the team and the community. But the city amended the night game ordinance with last minute changes.

The Cubs have a limit of two Saturday night games per season, non-baseball events will count against its night event total according to Crain’s Chicago Business and the biggest tweak is the unprecedented addition that the city will have power to veto days and times chosen for rescheduled games (rainouts) starting in 2014.

Again, the approval by the City Council for the Cubs to be able to increase the number of potential night games from 30 to 46 is a step in the right direction, what was passed is not what the Cubs and city agreed to as part of the framework deal back in April. As Danny Ecker reported, the framework deal all parties agreed to in April is extremely pliable.

Danny Ecker also reported that Mike Lufrano said “the ordinance tweaks would force the team to choose between violating Major League Baseball rules or a city ordinance if the team were successful late in the season and received MLB television requests to play an extra Saturday night game, for example.”

Danny Ecker reported that other “major changes” are still to come in regards to the “size and look of the proposed Sheraton hotel, details of a new triangle plaza and the scope of a new office building” plus the signage in and around the ballpark. The Cubs “are banking on none of those tweaks being big enough to merit blowing up its agreement.”

The night game ordinance passing is only the first step in the process of the team being able to make the necessary changes and additions to the park in order to move forward with the Restoration of Wrigley Field. As Danny Ecker pointed out, this is “a good indication of speed bumps on the road ahead.”

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