CHICAGO: The Chicago Cubs have decided to go to the polls in the team's battle to gain community support for a plan to add more night games and expand their stadium, Wrigley Field.
Chicago recently turned down an expansion request when local groups protested the Cubs' plans to expand the bleacher section of the field over a neighboring street.
Opposition groups have put an advisory question on a local fall election ballot to gauge community opposition to more night games and stadium expansion.
"All along, the city has said that the neighborhood is opposed to night games and the expansion. We're trying to turn that conventional wisdom on its ear, said Tom Wolf, a VP with Jasculca/Terman & Associates, the local public affairs shop working with the Cubs to garner community backing for the plan. "The Cubs thought the referenda would be an opportunity to be heard."
The Cubs have started collecting voter signatures to have two advisory questions put on the local election ballot in November. One asks if voters in the Wrigley Field area would favor "modest updates to keep (the ballpark) financially viable and "a slight increase in the number of night games. A second question asks if owners of rooftop businesses around the field should contribute to help solve local parking and congestion problems on game days.
Wrigley Field sits in the midst of a Northside Chicago neighborhood that has undergone major gentrification in recent years.
Houses beyond the outfield fences have in many cases been converted into businesses and clubs that rent out their rooftops to businesses for game-day parties and entertaining. Owners of those businesses are concerned that planned bleacher expansion is designed to block their views of the field.