CHICAGO (MCT) — The Chicago Cubs' owners want to sell beer and wine in their new outdoor plaza connected to Wrigley Field, according to a proposal unveiled Tuesday at a City Council meeting that could increase the Ricketts family's competition with neighboring bars.
The ordinance proposed by Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, and supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel would allow alcohol to be sold in a plaza next to any Chicago sports stadium with capacity above 30,000, so it could apply to Soldier Field or U.S. Cellular Field as well.
But the focus is clearly on historic Wrigley Field and the Rickettses, who are looking for ways to increase revenue as part of their proposed $500 million plan to renovate the aging ballpark and develop the surrounding area.
Alcohol could be sold in a sports plaza directly adjacent to the stadium from 11 a.m. until midnight on weekends and until 11 p.m. on weeknights. Sales also would be allowed during nongame events like the concerts or ice skating programs the Cubs have talked about for the plaza to be built west of the park.
The proposal also would make it legal for fans to carry alcohol out of the ballpark and into the plaza, and into the park from the plaza.
A trade industry spokesman expressed concern about what the proposal could mean for bars that feed off the Wrigley crowds.
"We understand that if they are granted permission to expand their selling of adult beverages beyond the Friendly Confines, that this could adversely affect the sales of beer, wine and spirits at the adjacent or nearby ILBA member establishments," said Daniel Clausner, executive director of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association.
Tunney has been negotiating with Emanuel and the Cubs for much of this year over the particulars of the Rickettses' proposal to spend $300 million renovating Wrigley and an additional $200 million building a nearby hotel and other development in the congested neighborhood around Clark and Addison streets.
Emanuel has largely supported the plan, citing the family's commitment to pay for the renovations, and spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said he backs the liquor license proposal. "It's basically another step in moving the process along," she said.
Though he has at times expressed misgivings about the team's push for more concessions from the city, Tunney recently endorsed a plan that will require Sheffield Avenue east of the park to be narrowed so the Cubs can enlarge a deck in the right-field bleachers.
And after Tunney opposed a plan for a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street linking the proposed hotel to the park near the plaza, he backed a plan for the team to instead build a "branded" archway with advertising on it spanning Clark, welcoming people to the plaza.
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