Emanuel’s Wrigley Field plan gets lukewarm reception in neighborhood
By STefano ESPOsito Staff Reporter email@example.com April 16, 2012 9:26PM
Joe Spagnoli, owner of Yak-Zies at 3710 N. Clark, talks about Mayor Rahm Emanuael’s ‘Fenway Plan' redevelopment of Wrigley Field and surrounding area. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
Updated: May 18, 2012 9:57AM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Fenway Plan” to generate as much as $150 million for a Wrigley Field renovation could be a tough sell for residents in the surrounding neighborhood.
“I do not like it — I like the charm of this stadium,” said Wrigleyville resident, Amy Kalas, 40. “I’ve been to Fenway. I’ve been to all of these other parks. Wrigley is cool because it’s so neighborhoody and low key. I just don’t like the idea of big Jumbotrons.”
Emanuel’s plan — reported in Monday’s Chicago Sun-Times — would relax Wrigley’s landmark status and allow the Cubs to generate up to $150 million in advertising and sponsorship revenues out of the stadium and surrounding streets. Among the ideas being considered, sources tell the Sun-Times, is a Jumbotron in right field, more concerts and football games at Wrigley as well as surrounding street closings on game days to make way for money-making street fairs.
Joe Spagnoli, who owns Yak-Zies in the 3700 block of North Clark, says the Cubs should be able to do whatever they want “inside their four walls,” but he worries that street fairs would cut into his business and be a nightmare for area residents.
“They’re not paying tax dollars for the streets,” Spagnoli said of the Cubs, “and they’re inconveniencing the people in the neighborhood. A lot of these street are one-way. How do you get to your house?”
Wrigleyville resident Caryn Steinman, 23, a graduate student, has similar concerns about game-day street closings.
“We would never be able to leave,” said Steinman, a Cubs fan who lives on Sheffield near the stadium. “We would never be able to grocery shop. ... It would be quite the inconvenience.”
Some neighboring business owners and managers said the Cubs organization should be free to do whatever they need to do to make money and stay competitive with other Major League Baseball teams.
“As a business owner, I would be really pissed off if my hands were tied,” said Zach Strauss, general manager of Sluggers on North Clark.
Strauss said the Ricketts family, the owners of the Cubs, “have the right to go to their alderman, go to the mayor — whatever they want to do, they have the right to go get permits and do it; just like I have the right to get a permit for my sidewalk cafe and use the public way for that.”