Cubs block out dates for Sir Paul
By FRAN SPIELMAN, City Hall Reporter
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 http://www.suntimes.com/5844602-417/cubs-block-out-dates-for-sir-paul.html
Paul McCartney’s “band on the run” hasn’t yet confirmed plans to perform this summer at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs are nailing down the dates.
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) introduced an ordinance — at the Cubs’ request — that would authorize concerts at Wrigley Field on July 31 and Aug. 1.
Sources said the Cubs are finalizing negotiations with McCartney for back-to-back nighttime concerts on those dates.
Since legislation is normally introduced at one City Council meeting and approved at the next, the timing is key. If the ordinance wasn’t introduced Wednesday, it would be tough to approve in time.
Since 2005, the 97-year-old Wrigley Field has hosted concerts by Jimmy Buffett, the Police, the Dave Matthews Band, Rascal Flatts and Elton John and Billy Joel.
The Cubs agreed to take a year off in 2006 to ease the strain of the concerts on neighborhood residents. They also agreed to forfeit one of their 30 annual night games.
But no such concessions are planned this year, according to Mike Lufrano, the Cubs’ general counsel and executive vice president of community affairs.
“We’ve proven through the shows that we’ve done that this is something the neighborhood appreciates,” Lufrano said Wednesday. “We will add neighborhood protections, including additional security after the shows. ...
“We do special neighborhood pre-sales of tickets that typically sell out pretty quickly. The Dave Matthews Band alone generated more than $800,000 in taxes for the city, and it was a tremendous help for local businesses. So we think what was once an experiment has proven very successful.”
Tunney said he agreed to introduce the ordinance as a “placeholder” in the likely event that negotiations with McCartney are finalized.
The alderman agreed that Wrigley concerts have been an “economic benefit to the city and the neighborhood,” that the level of talent has been “top-notch” and that no added concessions are necessary.
“The concerts have been successful because they’ve been controlled by ordinance specific to each one and additional neighborhood protection go with that ordinance,” Tunney said. “As far as forfeiting night games, it depends on how often there are concerts. If they’re one, two or three days, I’m supportive [without] a reduction in the number of night games.”
The prospect of McCartney concerts on those dates was disclosed by the Chicago Sun-Times last month.
The motivation for the concert series: It would provide the Cubs with money that wouldn’t fall under Major League Baseball’s revenue-sharing umbrella. For every dollar the Cubs make on game days, 34 cents must be shared with other teams. The Cubs get to keep every dollar they make off concerts.
Tunney also introduced a companion ordinance authorizing rooftop clubs that have taken a financial beating during this dismal Cubs season to open for business during the concert dates.