The Vitalogy of Wrigley’s Restoration

So, there is much ado about something with Cubs and with the quiet little neighborhood of Wrigleyville.

That is what Ald. Tom Tunney would have you believe.  The big bad corporate guys are going to ruin his sleepy little neighborhood nestled in the plains of Chicago’s quiet Northside.

Is Ald. Tunney kidding himself?  Where was Ald. Tunney in 2004 when Clark Street was re-imagined and rebuilt from the inside out?  Gone was the Billy Goat, the Cubby Dog, and many smaller, family-run bars for large, wide, and extremely loud clubs and upscale bars. Gone was the old Bernies, replaced with some of the most amazing plastic surgery a tavern has ever experienced.

Now he is stepping up to the plate and playing hardball. Or at least he is doing it through the media because he seems to wait until the day or two before meetings to announce his thoughts. Why did he wait two weeks to express his ultimatum?

His argument that an inebriated person may drop a beer off of the proposed bridge over Clark Street is valid. It is as valid a concern as anyone who worries about things falling from the elevated train tracks that cover miles and miles and miles and miles and miles, and you see where I am going with this.

I live in Ald. Tunney’s ward. I have absolutely no problem with the Wrigley restoration. But, to be fair, I am one of the people who moved here after the stadium was built. For all of the people who lived here before the stadium was built … oh, right, that is no one at all.

For everyone else … a ballpark did not just pop-up in your backyard. You chose this neighborhood for one reason or another, but the ballpark existed when you did. Just like I chose to live across the street from a school and a playground. There so happened to be a hospital right there as well, but the playground looked so nice.  It is now a construction zone and will be for another year and a half.  But guess what, I moved in near a hospital.  It happens.

To be clear and fair, I firmly believe Ald. Tunney has every right to do what he is doing.  His job description is to serve his constituents, and if he thinks that is what he is doing, then that is fair.

As one of his constituents, I simply disagree with him.

I also believe his residents have a right to voice their concerns. No project should be unjustly accelerated through the approval process without proper vetting.  However, that does not appear to be happening in this case.  Neighbors can and should voice their thoughts, but again, I disagree with those against the restoration.

Tom Ricketts admitted he made a mistake by the way he went about requesting public support. He could have been a bit more respectful and a bit more tactful.  However, in January, when he announced he would be the first owner in who knows how long to pay for his own stadium, Mayor Emanuel quickly forgot about Joe Ricketts’ Anti-Obama PAC and picked up the phone. Ricketts said he just needed some help relaxing a few restrictions, and it would be funded completely by private money.

Seriously, when was the last time that happened? The city would not have to drop a dime, but instead, sit back and collect the money. Wrigley will be rebuilt; more money will flow into the neighborhood and the city. Small-business owners will benefit greatly, and a legendary ballpark will be saved.

Wrigley Field must be restored. The alderman is scared about what might happen to his neighborhood with a restored Wrigley. The scarier thing is what is going to happen to the neighborhood if it isn’t.

Have you ever walked down Clark Street on a Tuesday night in February? Don’t.  Just about everything is closed. Why? There is no baseball.

And if Wrigley is not rebuilt after a few summers, that booming club and the upscale LA-style bar will be so quiet on a Tuesday night in June, you would not even think they are open.

That is because they won’t be. They will be for sale along with the rest of Clark Street.

Restoring Wrigley won’t ruin the neighborhood.

Not restoring it will.

 

Addendum:  This editorial was written prior to Ald. Tunney’s about face Thursday afternoon at the latest hearing. I do not know if this was the Alderman’s plan the entire time, but if I am going to be critical, I must also be fair. It appears that he understands the importance of Wrigley, and what it means to his ward. While many residents still have issues, I believe Ald. Tunney’s approval of Wrigley’s Restoration is a huge step in the right direction for all parties involved.

Thank you for understanding the timeline of this editorial.

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  • Jim Canavan

    Brian:
    As usual, a well thought and well written article.

  • 07GreyDigger

    The more I hear about the story, the more I assume there was a payout involved somehow. Maybe Tunney was looking for a kickback and didn’t get one. I assume Rahm told him about all the glory he’ll receive for changing his tune and he did. I don’t know. I hate politics. Glad this is close to being over.

  • Jim_Schwartz_Gramps

    Thanks Brian for a great article. It means even more because you are a resident of the neighborhood. I think most Cubs fans feel the same way you do.

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