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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wrigley Field steals the sidewalks

Today, the Tribune Company reports in its newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, that has come up with a new plan to expand its stadium in Chicago, Wrigley Field. The plan entails moving walls ten feet outward into current sidewalk space along Sheffield and Waveland Avenues. The plan eliminates unsightly columns that would have punctured these sidewalks, but it manages to do worse: the sidewalks will only be 12 to 16 feet wide after the walls are moved out!

The Tribune Company's spokesperson states that this is no big deal because these streets proper are closed at game time, and can be used by pedestrians who cannot fit on reduced sidewalks.

This ignorant statement demonstrates a total lack of concern for the people who live in the neighborhood and good urban design. Ideally, sidewalks should be at least 30 feet wide to accomodate foot traffic and other uses (children playing). At a location as busy as the area around Wriglet Field, such space is certainly needed even when the stadium is closed. Twelve to 16 feet of space is insufficient at this location, as it is in any location (although I realize most places don't have even that much sidewalk width).

Does the Tribune Company want to turn Chicago into Wilmette or Schaumburg?


1 comment:

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

I'd guess that a large proportion of the people going to those goddamn Cubs games are from places like Wilmette and Schaumburg. I can testify that those loud, often very drunk assholes clog the Skoke Swift CTA train before, during, and after games. Some come from Skokie and some DRIVE to the Swift from places even richer and further out.

Also, several months ago I was walking around Lakeview, and at the corner of Clark and Halsted I was accosted by some Cubs employee who first asked if I would sign a petition for some bland, mildly good cause. I signed. He then asked me to sign ANOTHER petition, that one supporting the shutting down of neighborhood businesses that've built bleachers on their roofs so people can watch the games, claiming that my support somehow signified community support. I told him hell no and walked away. Point being, not only were they asking non-community people to pose as community folk, but they were getting people to sign another petition first to distract them and to have people saying "Oh, well I already signed something, sure sure I'll sign something else." Trying to dupe people into that...WAY TO GO CUBS!

Of course, even "community" support in Wrigleyville doesn't mean what it once would have. Obnoxious behavior by agents of the Cubs/the stadium, as well as by fans, has driven a lot of people who used to live in that neighborhood out. So have skyrocketing real estate values, influenced no doubt by the presence of the stadium and the businesses it attracts. Now, you go near Wrigley Field and you see all those residences that have been turned into private clubs for Cubs fans to watch games. Ten, fifteen years ago the neighborhood wasn't like that. The community has changed.

When you, Michael, went to the Brownfields Conference, you heard the president of the Cardinals talk about Wrigleyville as the greatest baseball neighborhood in the world, something he hopes to emulate and even surpass (ha) in St. Louis. While I think that's farfetched, look at that dumbass piece of crap new stadium they're building, replacing the old one that references the Arch (a symbol of the city, whether we like it or not), the old one that doesn't even sell out as it is.... The Cards want to be the Cubs. One more way StL is trying to emulate Chicago, rather than do what is right for StL. That way of thinking will keep StL in Chicago's shadow (in some ways) rather than let StL be its own city with its own virtues.

I leave you with this: Why do we have to change a Chicago neighborhood for the small band of drunken morons who specifically come there to publicly act like assholes and pee on lawns (seriously, that's a lot of the allure of the game to Cubs fans, they see it as being a place where they can break social norms and act out everything they've been repressing all week at their stupid yuppie jobs)? Why not do something for the residents and the people that work in that neighborhood, like leave the sidewalk as it is? OH WAIT THE CUBS FANS HAVE MONEY. Them tickets, the food, the beers, the neighborhood bars, that shit ain't cheap. Cubs games are about money, not about entertaining your average Chicagoan, for whom a ticket is on the expensive side. The drunken assholes have the money, therefore the neighborhood is changed for them, even though they don't live or work there and only go for games. (Yknow, the city has blamed the Fireside Bowl for being a source of drunken assholes bothering the neighborhood when they tried to close it before, citing that as a reason for closure? Even though far fewer drunken assholes come out of a tiny Fireside show than a Cubs game on any given night? But I guess they're not rich assholes, so they don't matter.) I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though, given that they were allowed to keep Wrigley Field open during the summer when its concrete started crumbling and almost killed that child.... Any other building in the city would've been shut down and bulldozed overnight, but I guess most city buildings don't draw so many drunken assholes from the suburbs to come splash money around (yknow, splashing like beer and piss.). UGH!

May the Cubs forever lose,