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Ordinance to Bring More Winter Classic Revenues to Wrigleyville

Dec. 16, 2008 – Baseball season may be nearly four months away, but Wrigleyville rooftop owners are among the Lakeview businesses looking to cash in on the first hockey game ever played at Wrigley Field.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) last week paved the way for rooftop owners by introducing an ordinance that would allow fans to view the game from the rooftops on Waveland and Sheffield avenues overlooking the ballpark.

The New Year's Day game will feature the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings in a rare outdoor event the National Hockey League calls the "Winter Classic."

Calling it a "historic game" and "a real spectacle," Larissa Tyler, executive director of the Central Lakeview Merchants Association, said businesses hope for a rare January infusion of cash into the neighborhood.

"Winter is usually a bit of a lull," Tyler said. "It's going to be very — extremely — positive for the neighborhood, especially for businesses on the north side of Clark Street."

In what she calls a "lowball" estimate, Tyler said each attendee in the sold-out ballpark, which holds 41,160 fans, is projected to spend at least $30 in the neighborhood, which would include parking, food, drinks, and any souvenirs and shopping.

That would mean the neighborhood could rake in more than $1.2 million in sales in one day, and that estimate is based just on the projected spending of fans inside Wrigley Field, not including fans on rooftops and in neighborhood bars.

Although the full City Council needs to vote on the proposal that won unanimous support Dec. 10 from the Committee on License and Consumer Protection, rooftop owners have already been cashing in, as rooftop ticket sales began even before the 15 "official rooftop partner" buildings had permission to commercially operate Jan. 1.

"Ticket sales are going very well," said Patricia Purcell, director of rooftops for Beyond the Ivy, which takes care of sales for the buildings located at 1010, 1038 and 1048 W. Waveland Ave.

Purcell said the three buildings hold a total of 400 fans. Tickets on those buildings are selling for $400 apiece.

Sales are also brisk at 3639 Wrigley Rooftop, according to Steve Alexander, the building's director of events, who says he's been getting calls from many out-of-town hockey fans.

"Being a big hockey guy, getting calls from Boston or New York or any of the original six [hockey franchises in the National Hockey League], that's pretty cool," Alexander said.

Both Alexander and Purcell said they have received many calls from Canadian fans hoping to view the outdoor game at the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Alexander said 3639 Wrigley Rooftop is charging $275 per ticket. Fans can view the game from a heated, tented area; an indoor club; or on top of the building in the elements "depending on their tolerance."

While the game is officially sold out, tickets inside the ballpark are also available through a variety of ticket services and brokers.

Fan-to-fan ticket service StubHub, with a pick-up office just north of Wrigley Field, has tickets ranging from $225 to $10,000 as of Monday.

Wrigley Field, built in 1914, hosts 81 regular season baseball games a year. Although the ballpark was also home to the Chicago Bears football team from 1921 to 1970, New Year's Day will mark the stadium's debut as a hockey venue.

The Chicago Blackhawks, averaging 21,475 fans per game at the United Center, will nearly double their average attendance at the Winter Classic.

Tunney's proposed exception to the Wrigley Field Adjacent Area Ordinance re-defines "game days" to include the hockey game on New Year's Day. Tunney said the ordinance exception was required due to agreements worked out between the City Council and the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field dating back to the installation of lights in the neighborhood ballpark in 1988.

Neighborhood issues, such as parking regulations, clean-up efforts and traffic control, are major concerns for the neighborhood, which Tunney said "is not interested in 365 days of activity."

"These are negotiated agreements that require community involvement," Tunney said. 

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  1. Brian said, Tue Dec 16 17:09:07 UTC 2008:

    Great article!  Good to see the Cubs are working on revenues… and that a Chicago politician did something "nice" for the Cubs given the recent headlines.



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