Wrigleyville's alderman said Wednesday that the Cubs are considering construction of a parking garage north of the ballpark to help relieve parking woes that residents worry would worsen if the city allowed more night games and concerts at the stadium.
Ald. Thomas Tunney, 44th, talked about the possibility as negotiations over Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts' proposal to renovate Wrigley Field and build a hotel on Clark and Addison streets continued well past Ricketts' self-declared deadline for a deal.
A major sticking point has been the desire of residents to add parking in the congested neighborhood as part of a deal that includes a $300 million ballpark rehab and a $200 million neighborhood development plan.
Tunney noted Wednesday that the team owns a gravel lot near Clark and Grace streets and suggested the Ricketts family could build a multilevel garage on the lot, which he said "is as big as the stadium," to hold hundreds of cars.
"Building is expensive, I understand that, but it's also part of the neighborhood concerns," Tunney said, adding that there also are discussions about remote parking. The alderman said the Cubs provide far less parking than other Major League Baseball teams.
Dennis Culloton, a Ricketts spokesman, declined to discuss specifics but said that "parking has certainly been a topic the team has been working hard to resolve."
The talks are well into extra innings. Ricketts had set Monday — opening day — as a deadline. But Tunney, Cubs executives and a top aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued discussions Wednesday evening.
Not present at recent face-to-face talks were representatives of the rooftop clubs seeking to prevent their lucrative views into Wrigley from being blocked. Tunney, however, has been representing their interests, as well as those of neighborhood residents who want more parking and security.
The rooftop owners offered to place signage on their buildings and give the ad revenue to the Cubs in exchange for an 11-year extension of their revenue-sharing agreement with the team that expires in 2023. The rooftop owners say that agreement and the nearly 100-year-old ballpark's landmark designation prevent the Cubs from blocking their views.
Ricketts, who has an interest in one rooftop venue and has privately discussed buying others, wants more inside-the-ballpark signage, including a 6,000-square-foot video screen, which rooftop owners fear would block those views and devalue their property.
Emanuel is eager to get a deal done because Ricketts is not asking for a taxpayer subsidy in exchange for his plan, which would boost economic development on the North Side.
In recent weeks, Emanuel, Tunney and the Cubs have said they want a comprehensive solution that addresses signage inside the park, on the rooftops and elsewhere in the neighborhood; the hotel development; parking; and security — as well as permission to stage more night games and concerts.
But Tunney on Wednesday suggested it may be difficult to resolve all those issues anytime soon.
"There's lots of different parts to this, so I think when there is, it won't be a resolution of the many asks that are out there, but a confidence that they're staying in Lakeview," he said.
One issue Tunney described as new is exactly how the hotel would be developed on a plot across the street from Wrigley.
"Well, six months ago there wasn't the hotel," the alderman said. "So now we have a hotel, OK? … By the way, it's more than a hotel — the ask: full-service food and beverage, a large health club and 176 rooms. So drivers of traffic, congestion. We've got a parking problem already, so how does this complicate that?"