Two stories in Crain's publications layout the disconnect between our community and the team's owners.
Wrigley Field is part of Lake View – along Lake Michigan and about four miles north of Chicago's Loop. In the 40 years since I moved into the neighborhood, it has risen from middle to upper-middle class.
It's the epicenter of teardowns in Chicago – some 300 over the last five years – as one story documents. Century old one or two story fame "cottages" are being torn demolished and replaced by three-level single family homes costing three times as much. On the low side, a developer may pay $600,000 to clear a 25X125' lot, and sell the new house for $1.8 million.
The buyers are moving here for the short commute on Chicago's L trains or buses to jobs in the Loop. Initially they may be attracted by the neighborhood's vibrant nightlife. Later, they may stay for the good public schools in the neighborhood which can get their children into top notch high schools. Owning a second car may be optional. And there's the beautiful lakefront almost at their doorsteps.
While these homeowners may go to a Cubs game on occasion, they are not buying expensive homes because of the Cubs -- and the too often rowdy crowds the team attracts.
The same is true for renters. Of seven units we own within walking distance of Wrigley Field, it's rare for someone to mention proximity to the ballpark as a major reason for moving into the neighborhood
Lake View's biggest conflict is with an elitist family with ties to Omaha, Neb. The Ricketts own the biggest tract in the area. They call it Wrigley Field.
When this family, worth billions, decided to buy the Chicago Cubs, they initially tried to get Chicago and Illinois taxpayers to pay at least a big portion of the bill. When that failed, they said they would foot the bill for updating the old ballpark, but they needed some concessions from the city. Initially, some were reasonable, some less so. Compromises with the community and broader city were made. But the Ricketts keep coming back for more – more night games, more concerts, vacated sidewalks, a beer garden -- to make this rich family even wealthier.
In the latest move, the Cubs organization says it is necessary to close two thru streets that run alongside the ballpark. Addison Avenue is an important east-west street that, among other things, provides access to a district police station, Lake Shore Drive, and a busy L station. Clark Street -- so old is was once an Indian trail – cuts a diagonal linking Lincoln Park to Edgewater.
The team contends this is necessary to meet new Major League Baseball security guidelines – and don't dare question that assertion, "father knows best." Don't raise the likelihood these standards can be met in other ways.
The idea, as Crain's columnist Greg Hinz puts it, reflects a new level of arrogance.
Fortunately, our local alderman, Tom Tunney (44th), has rejected the idea, and has Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Ricketts family needs to get real. Their business is in an increasing affluent area of well-educated homeowners. We don't need the noise, traffic congestion, drunks and criminal elements. We understand 80,000 of us living in just over three square miles requires give and take.
For the Ricketts family, it's all take, no give.