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Mayor to propose ordinance allowing 40 night games per season at Wrigley

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

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Updated: June 5, 2013 6:12AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will start delivering next week on the promises he made to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts by introducing an ordinance authorizing 40 night games per season at Wrigley Field but area residents are anxiously awaiting the fine print.

If the City Council agrees to raise the night-game ceiling from 30 to 40, the Cubs have agreed to schedule just 35 of those dates and hold five in reserve for night games dictated by Major League Baseball or its national television contract.

If MLB dictates more than five night games a season, the Cubs want the City Council — or the corporation counsel if time is too short--to authorize it without “counting” those games against the 40-game ceiling. Playoff games, re-scheduled games or the All-Star Game would not count, either.

All of that is in addition to four concerts-per-season and six 3:05 p.m. starts on Friday afternoons.

“It’s been averaging three to four a year. But under the new [TV contract], it could be more than that — up to 11. That would happen if you were a playoff team headed toward a World Series, [which] we are going to be,” said Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations.

“It’s impossible to plan for that. You’d like to say, ‘We know exactly when the league will take us.’ But we don’t. So we need to have some flexibility.”

The question is whether Emanuel and local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) will go along with those demands, or whether they will side with Wrigleyville residents who believe it’s all too much for their congested neighborhood to swallow.

City Hall sources refused to disclose the fine print until the mayor introduces the ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Will DeMille, president of the Lakeview Citizens Council, said Friday he’s is holding to the organization’s demand of no more than 37 “night events” per season — including concerts and 3:05 p.m. starts — with a maximum of 40 when MLB broadcasts and re-scheduled games are factored in.

“If there were to be 60-plus night events, you’re looking at a majority of evenings between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That would be too many, too fast for everyone to adequately adjust,” he said.

DeMille also argued that 30 additional police officers — only 10 of them paid for by the Cubs — is nowhere near enough to cover an impacted area that stretches from Lake Michigan to Ashland and Irving Park Rd. to Belmont.

“We do not feel this is something that should be absorbed by the strained police force or the business community. It should be fully paid for by the Cubs,” he said.

Jill Peters, president of the Southport Neighbors Association, has also demanded a reduction.

“As far as we’re concerned, 3:05 p.m. starts should also be included in the 40. They end at the height of the rush-hour as people are trying to get into and out of their neighborhoods. It’s gonna prevent them from doing that,” Peters said.

“The earlier time for Friday day games was a concession for the 12 additional night games given to the Cubs in 2004 so it wouldn’t impact the rush-hour commute. Now, we’re having to give that up, as well. It will have a tremendously detrimental effect.”

Kenney argued that the Cubs have already compromised.

“We had hoped to get to the Major League average and we heard that was too many. So, we’ve scaled it back from 54 to 40. Now, we’re just trying to find out, how do we toggle between 40 and what might happen to us on the national agreement,” he said.

Tunney could not be reached for comment. The alderman said earlier this week that he does not believe Ricketts is serious about moving the Cubs out of Wrigley and Chicago nor will the ultimatum force him or his constituents to give the Cubs carte blanche.

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