By Caroline Kenny
Due to national security concerns worldwide, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) is proposing the City of Chicago close Clark and Addison streets during all Chicago Cubs games this baseball season.
Quigley, who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, brought up the concept when discussing the Paris and Brussels terror attacks during an interview on WLS-AM 890’s “Connected to Chicago” radio program.
“There are those saying we should not close down the streets around these facilities. I think we need to get used to that concept,” Quigley said. “Forty-two thousand people is an attractive target for people who want to hurt us.”
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Cubs fans are already seeing more precautionary safety measures this baseball season. Those who attended the home opener at Wrigley Field on Monday night were the first to see the new metal detectors, located directly outside the entry gates. The Cubs were the last franchise in Major League Baseball to implement these new safety measures, after being granted a one year reprieve since the stadium was under construction last season.
Wrigley Field is located in a dense residential neighborhood, and neighbors are not enthused about the idea of closing several main thoroughfares for up to six hours during games, which often occur multiple nights a week and during prime commuting time.
Paul Burke has lived off Addison for his entire 59 years, and while he understands that Wrigley Field is a part of his community, he doesn’t think any changes need to be made to traffic patterns that have been in existence for as long as he remembers.
“This is Clark and Addison. It’s been open for the last hundred years,” Burke said. “Are we closing it down because of a baseball game? Get over it. Keep it open.”
Clark and Addison make up what is known as the Wrigleyville entertainment district, and are both lined with merchandise retailers, restaurants and sports bars.
Owners of these businesses believe traffic will become a headache if Quigley’s plan is enacted, both for residents as well as Cub fans trying to get to and from games.
However, many also believe that their business could grow from such a change.
Clark Street Sports employee Gunej Cherif thinks that people will be more willing to mill around and visit retailers on both sides of the street if traffic became a non-issue to pedestrians.
“Everyone will stay in one area, and they don’t have to worry about crossing the street or getting hit by a car,” he said.
For now, the plan is still only in talks. The Chicago Cubs franchise has come out in agreement with Quigley.
However, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he has no plans to close any more streets besides Sheffield and Waveland, which are already closed during games.
“Of course we are not going to close Clark and Addison,” mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. “Safety and security are everyone’s top concern, and we will work with the community, Ald. (Tom) Tunney and the Cubs to achieve that without having to shut down two major roads in a neighborhood.”