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Let The Disneyfication Of Wrigley Field Begin

CHICAGO - JULY 6:  Pedestrians walk in front of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, July 6, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Tribune Company, which owns the team and the ballpark has reached a deal, reported to be worth around $900 million, to sell both to the Ricketts family, which built its fortune through TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. The Tribune Company, which is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will need court approval as well as approval from Major League Baseball for the sale to be completed.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Wise GuidesCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2009

The Chicago alderman whose ward includes Wrigley Field wants to ban street vendors and the so-called "bucket boys," those kids who pound on overturned buckets with drumsticks, from the perimeter of the Friendly Confines. "Let the Disneyfication of Wrigleyville begin," declared Ald. Thomas Tunney.

Actually, I made that up. What he really said was that it's a, "public safety issue," which is, of course, comical. I can see if you have complaints about the noise but public safety has nothing to do with it. Here's a video I shot of the drummers on Sunday playing along Sheffield Avenue.

As you can see, Sheffield is closed to cars and fans are having little trouble moving around. There are vendors nearby hawking t-shirts and other stuff, but again, there's no log-jam of fans unable to move. I'm sure Tunney has received complaints from local residents about the noise, but I'm wondering if the bigger issue might be complaints from shopkeepers losing sales to the street vendors. This article from the Chicago Tribune quotes a Cubs spokesman as saying he supports Tunney. That isn't the least bit surprising. The Cubs like to sell t-shirts, too.

If Tunney is successful it would be unfortunate. One of the charms of Wrigley is that it's situated in this incredibly busy, dynamic urban neighborhood. Yes, it's noisy and messy, full of bars and restaurants, hot dog stands and all different kinds of people. There are homeless people begging for change and smelly buses idling. The El rattles overhead and it's loud as hell, by the way. Then 40,000 people come pouring out of this ancient ballpark and into the neighborhood.

It's life. It's great.
 
So find something else to harp about, Ald. Tunney. How about asking the Cubs about their obscenely high ticket prices or the scalping service they set up? Why don't you look into the extortionate rates for food, beer, and bottled water inside Wrigley or the fact fans consistently arrive late to games because the CTA can't get the trains to run on time? Why don't you call Jim Hendry before the City Council and ask him what the hell he was thinking when signing Milton Bradley?
   
There are plenty of issues you could be tackling that could make the Wrigley experience better for everyone. Leave the street vendors and bucket boys alone.

Andy Buchanan

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