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Cubs Night Game Articles

Retrieved 2-7-2004

Deal set on night games
Cubs, city reach tentative accord

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
February 7, 2004, 2:24 PM CST

The Daley administration and the Cubs have reached a tentative agreement that would permit the team to phase in additional night games at Wrigley Field starting in the 2004 season, City Hall sources reported Friday.

Under the accord, the Cubs—now limited to 18 games per season under the lights—ultimately would be granted permission for 30 by 2006, the sources said.

In return, the team would fund a variety of initiatives designed to address game-related problems, ranging from congestion to litter.

The neighborhood protections would be in place in time for the approaching 2004 season, when the team would be permitted to play 22 night games. Four additional night games totaling 26 would be allowed in 2005 and another four in 2006, according to the tentative agreement.

Although schedules have been printed and other preparations for the upcoming season have been made, sources said it still may be possible to alter starting times to accommodate the four additional night games.

The neighborhood protections include operation by the Cubs of a remote parking lot—designed to cut traffic in the area immediately around Wrigley and additional refuse pickup paid for by the team. The Cubs also would create a $1 million fund that would be used to remedy any future problems identified by community leaders.

Failure by the team to live up to its end of the bargain over the first two summers would give local leaders influence to deny implementation of the last four permitted night games to be phased in for the 2006 season.

Sources said the tentative agreement came late Friday at a City Hall meeting. In attendance were Sheila O'Grady, Mayor Richard Daley's chief of staff, plus Cubs representatives and aldermen from the wards surrounding the ballpark.

The Cubs are owned by Tribune Co., which also owns the Chicago Tribune.

Ald. Thomas Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigley, confirmed that the tentative deal had been reached. Neighborhood leaders were to be provided a summary by e-mail Saturday in advance of a Monday meeting of a blue-ribbon committee composed of local leaders.

"Our hope is that after two years of negotiations people are satisfied with the neighborhood protections," Tunney said. "There is a feeling that there is a majority of people who are supporting this plan, but we really want to build an overwhelming consensus."

A joint meeting of the City Council's Budget and License committees was scheduled to consider the agreement on Tuesday. Assuming approval, it would go to the full council for final consideration at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

For the last several years, community groups from the neighborhoods surrounding Wrigley have pressured City Hall to ensure that traffic congestion, fan rowdiness and other game-related problems be remedied before the city allowed more night games. Meanwhile, team officials have said the added revenue from additional night games would provide funding for the list of neighborhood improvements.

In a related development, the Cubs and 10 of 13 rooftop businesses surrounding Wrigley reached a formal agreement in late January settling their legal dispute.
Copyright © 2004, The Chicago Tribune

retrieved April 9, 2004

Pact allows Cubs to phase in 12 night games

February 7, 2004
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

After years of contentious negotiations, the Cubs and City Hall finally cut a deal Friday to phase in 12 more night games at Wrigley Field after the team agreed to several minor concessions demanded by Mayor Daley.

The agreement means the Cubs could phase in the first four additional night games by the 2004 season, even though season tickets already have been sold. Single-game sales don't start until Feb. 27.

The Cubs had been limited to 18 night games each year. Friday's deal ups that to 30 within three or four years. The schedule, which still must be hammered out, will either add four night games in three consecutive years, or four games in the first two years and two games in each of the next two years.

The Cubs will present the agreement to the neighborhood Monday night at Wrigley's Stadium Club. It is expected to be approved by a City Council committee Tuesday and the full council Wednesday.

Exactly how and when the first new night games will be shoe-horned into the schedule won't be decided until after full council vote, sources said.

To nail down the agreement, the Cubs agreed to adjust their yearly contribution to a neighborhood protection fund for inflation, according to sources.

Daley also convinced the Cubs that arbitration should be the primary, if not only, vehicle to resolve future disputes with Wrigleyville neighbors if the team doesn't live up to its promises. The mayor argued such disputes don't belong in the courts, the sources said.

The life of the agreement was whittled from 15 years to 12 at Daley's insistence.

Community leaders and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes the ballpark, were thrilled that the long-running night game saga finally was coming to an end. They needed the deal to get locked in place this year to get the Cubs to fund community protection plans that are not funded in Daley's hard-times 2004 budget.

''I'm ecstatic,'' said Jim Ludwig, president of the Lake View Citizens Council. ''It's great. Obviously, it's long overdue. All the protections can go into place. We've got a happy customer in the Lake View neighborhood. Remote parking will be beefed up. There will be tons of good things.''

The protections include improvements in neighborhood traffic congestion, sanitation and parking. The Cubs agreed to establish a $1 million fund for that program.

''I feel very positive,'' Tunney said of the deal. ''Our concern is to have the neighborhood protection in place for this season. Without an agreement, we would have had minimal protections. I'm anxious to move this process forward. We've got to concentrate on having a winning team.''

The groundwork for Friday's deal was laid late last month. A City Council committee approved limited landmark status for Wrigley without so much as a peep from the Cubs. That was significant because Cubs president Andy MacPhail and baseball commissioner Bud Selig at one point joined forces to oppose the landmarking. The Cubs went so far as to hint that Wrigley's future was endangered.

The limited scope of the landmark designation allowed the Cubs to add 200 premium seats in three rows behind home plate. The seats will sell for between $200 and $250 apiece, bringing the Cubs an extra $3.2 million in new cash each year. The Cubs also will get $1.7 million a year thanks to a deal cut with rooftop owners, who agreed to fork over 17 percent of gross revenues in return for their view of Wrigley.

The new night games add yet another revenue stream, with more money expected from television ads and boosted attendance. More night games, depending on when they are scheduled, also could give the players a break from the summer heat -- an issue ballplayers have said for years works against the Cubs.

MacPhail declined to comment on the deal Friday. But sources said the team decided it can live with the changes imposed by Daley, who now can save face after blocking a night-game deal months ago.

The deal also means the Cubs have checked off yet another item on a to-do list that included dealing with the rooftops, adding the premium seats, increasing night games, building 2,000 more bleacher seats and constructing a restaurant, garage and Cubs Hall of Fame on adjacent property.

The latter two projects still remain, but the pressure to add seats immediately has eased with the new revenue.

Contributing: Shamus Toomey

Retrieved April 9th, 2004

Wrigley night games rise from 18 to 22

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Updated: February 16, 7:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHICAGO -- The Cubs will be allowed to increase their night games at Wrigley Field from 18 to 30 per season by 2006 under an ordinance approved Wednesday by the Chicago City Council.

The limit will increase to 22 this year, 26 in 2005 and 30 in 2006 under the ordinance, approved by a 42-0 vote.

The Cubs announced Monday that the added night games for this year will be: June 8 vs. St. Louis, Aug. 11 vs. San Diego, Sept. 8 vs. Montreal and Sept. 28 vs. Cincinnati.

hose games, originally scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m. CT, will start at 7:05 p.m. CT.
The plan also includes provisions requiring the Cubs to spend more money to address congestion, litter and other game-related problems in the residential neighborhood that surround the ballpark, which opened in 1914.

"This is a win situation for all," Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said. "It shows you when you work together things can be accomplished."

Daley had opposed an earlier version of the plan but gave his endorsement to the version approved Wednesday.

The Cubs are the last major league team to play the majority of their 81 home games in the afternoon. Lights weren't added to Wrigley Field until 1988.

The Cubs had been pushing for more night games, saying they would generate more revenue. But many residents in the apartment buildings and homes directly across the street from the ballpark and nearby fought it, saying more night games would mean more traffic, congestion, rowdy behavior and littering.

The City Council was expected to vote later on a plan to give landmark status to Wrigley Field. The Committee on Historical Landmarks and Preservation recommended a plan that would make the ballpark a landmark but still allow for some changes.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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