SBD/June 14, 2011/Facilities

Cubs To Host Street Fair On Private Property After City Denies Sheffield Ave. Closing

The Cubs have “struck out in their efforts to close down a block-long stretch of Sheffield Avenue for nine days to make way for a family-friendly, interactive street fair,” according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The Wrigleyville block party will “still be held,” beginning Friday when the Cubs start a three-game series against the Yankees. But instead of “shutting down Sheffield, the food, games and a Budweiser music stage featuring some of Chicago’s top cover bands will be set up on a parking lot owned by the Cubs that borders Clark Street on the west side of Wrigley Field.” Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney said, “Sheffield is a major arterial street. You’re blocking traffic for nine days where people have to be-re-routed. The community felt that was too much to handle.” He added the city has “also limited the hours and the occupancy (to 1,000 people).” Tunney: “They’re shutting down at 8 p.m.” Central Lakeview Merchants Association Exec Dir Gus Isacson said that the closing time “will ‘release people into the community,’ so local bars and restaurants can share the wealth for people.” The Cubs are 26-39 this season and seeing drops in attendance, and Isacson said, “I don’t think they want to be doing this. The Cubs are not in the street fair business. But, this is what they have to do to stay relevant” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/14).

BEAUTY IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes public opinion of Wrigley Field “seems to be shifting,” as “more people appear to be coming around to the idea that Wrigley is a crumbling mausoleum where baseball dreams go to die.” It is “a cleaner ballpark than it was in 2004” and the bathrooms are “nicer than they used to be, or, in the case of the men’s room, as nice as troughs can be.” But there is “still rust, the concourses still resemble dark alleys and people still have to elbow their way to their seats.” Morrissey: “The best thing about Wrigley is the ivy on the outfield walls and the hand-operated scoreboard towering over center field. You can have the rest of it” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/14). 

RESOURCE GUIDE: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes GM Jim Hendry has “denied a report that the Cubs won't be able to spend on free agents for the next few years because of their debt load.” Hendry “pointed to expansion of the Cubs' Dominican facilities and their new complex in Mesa, Ariz., along with increases in the scouting and development budget, as examples of the Ricketts family's willingness to commit to building the organization.” The team has $50M “worth of contracts coming off the books” this offseason (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/14). Hendry was “less committal about free agency in the face of speculation the Cubs won’t have money to spend in the offseason.” He said, “That will be up to [Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts], and we’ll discuss that at the end of the year. There’s never been any talk of not (pursuing free agents)” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/14). ESPN CHICAGO’s Jon Greenberg wrote there is “little question” that Hendry will be “the scapegoat for this ramshackle team, whether it's his removal from his job, or maybe his demotion in importance with the hiring of a baseball operations president.” Fans are “showing their displeasure by not coming out to the ballpark.” Firing Hendry is a "quick way to win back public support" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 6/13).
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