(CBS) As the Cubs continue to face opposition from some Wrigleyville residents and business owners over the rules governing alcohol sales on the new plaza they’re constructing on the northwest side of Wrigley Field, president of business operations Crane Kenney said the red tape and obstacles have left a “sour taste” in the organization’s mouth.
Critics of the Cubs on this issue believe the plaza will serve primarily as a massive beer garden that will create public safety concern and “unanticipated issues” as 100,000 square feet of new entertainment real estate is introduced, as Alderman Tom Tunney (44th) recently put it. Because of this, critics want strict rules regarding alcohol sales. Some bar owners are also put off, viewing the Cubs’ plaza as more competition for business.
The Cubs are seeking a year-round liquor license for the plaza, but Tunney recently proposed an ordinance that would restrict alcohol sales to just beer and wine and only during Cubs games, concerts or special events, as Crain’s Chicago Business reported, and only ticket-holders would be able to purchase drinks. Tunney’s recent ordinance proposal was a departure from a proposal in January that would’ve allowed the year-round alcohol sales in the plaza.
From the Cubs’ perspective, they’re within the guidelines that had been set several years ago when the plaza addition was still being hatched. Kenney also pointed out that fans are always going to find
“We’re sinking several hundred million dollars into building this plaza,” Kenney said on the Spiegel and Goff Show on Friday. “In fact, our alderman introduced an ordinance in 2013 to regulate beer and wine sale on the plaza and off we went. And then I think the bar owners got to him, and now he wants to rewrite the ordinance that he introduced and change the rules. That makes it tough for us. He pointed us to the private land and now he wants to change the rules that he introduced. It makes it harder for us. It’ll be an obstacle that we get over, I think, and we’ll all continue to negotiate. It does leave a sour taste in our mouth.”
The biggest misconception about the plaza in Kenney’s mind is that it’s just a large beer garden. He pointed out it will also be instrumental in hosting farmer’s markets, family movie nights and being a venue for an ice rink, all in an attempt to be an entertainment destination year-round.
“Our goal is to bring more entertainment to the neighborhood, to the community but not just in the form of a beer garden, which seems to be the one bothering the bar owners on the street and therefore our alderman,” Kenney said.
“The biggest misconception about the plaza is that it’s going to be used for a single purpose. It’s going to be used for multiple purposes. In April and May, weather in Chicago probably doesn’t get a lot of folks to stand outside for very long. It will be used in the summer, during games to allow our fans to celebrate a little bit before and after games just like they do all over Wrigleyville. But it’s got multiple purposes. Again, with only 81 home games and many of those in the colder weather, it’d be limited on the beer garden issues.”
Kenney emphasized that if the Cubs can’t operate the plaza without causing issues in the neighborhood, the city can pull their liquor license.
“There’s a lot of misinformation,” Kenney said. “What we’re asking for is no different than every other patio license that every tavern and restaurant asks for. There’s over 200 liquor licenses in our neighborhood. We’re asking for one more for us and simply a level playing field. I understand some of the bars are feeling like this is competition they’d prefer not to have, but it’s really less about what’s going to happen in the neighborhood than it is what’s going to happen with the other bars. ”
Listen to Kenney’s full interview below.