Could Free Remote Cubs Parking Help Keep Cars Out of Wrigleyville?

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Clark Street and Addison Avenue, as seen from the top of Wrigley Field. Photo: systymf/Flickr

The Chicago Cubs are making good on their promise to provide free remote parking for up to a thousand cars plus shuttle bus service for fans attending weekend and night games. The new lot, which will be located at 3900 North Rockwell, near Irving Park and the Chicago River, will replace the current paid remote parking facility at DeVry University, which has about 500 spaces. Hopefully this strategy will help reduce the amount of driving in Wrigleyville on game days; the city should measure the its effectiveness with traffic counts.

It might seem odd for Streetsblog to be cautiously optimistic about a plan to double the amount of parking spots. It’s certainly true the Cubs and the city government should be doing everything in their power to encourage more transit, walking, and biking to the ballpark. But there’s reason to believe this strategy could lead to a decrease in total vehicle miles traveled. At any rate, it’s a much more sensible plan for addressing the traffic and parking nightmare around the ballpark than previous proposals to build more parking in the shadow of the stadium.

On Monday the Cubs announced they will be paying for the new lot, located about two miles west of Wrigley Field, and shuttle service, the Sun-Times reported. At the DeVry lot near Belmont and Campbell, roughly a mile south of the new one, fans were charged $6 a car to park and ride a shuttle to the ballpark, but the service was underused, partly due to the fee. 42nd Ward Alderman Tom Tunney had pressured the team to double the parking and eliminate the charge.

The Cubs agreed to provide the new lot as part of a deal with the city that allows the team to host additional night games, in conjunction with the $500 million Wrigley Field renovation project. Shuttles from the new lot will begin operating 2.5 hours before game time and run until an hour after the final play.

The new lot, located about two miles east of the Kennedy, is easily accessible for fans driving towards Wrigley from the northwest, west, and southwest. It can intercept fans driving towards Wrigley and keep them off of Lakeview’s narrow streets.

Removing the $6 charge may be just the incentive needed to convince them to leave their vehicles farther away from the ballpark, instead of driving the additional four-mile round trip to the stadium. That’s not even counting the additional circling of the neighborhood they might otherwise do while searching for expensive parking closer to the field, which presents a hazard to the huge number of pedestrians outside the stadium.

Sure, it would be great if all of these folks left their cars at home and found other ways to go root, root, root for the Cubbies (apologies to White Sox fans – I’m agnostic myself). But assuming it would difficult to persuade most of these people that there are practical alternatives to driving towards the ballpark at all, it’s great if they can be coaxed into not bringing their vehicles all the way to Wrigleyville. That would help create a safer and more pleasant environment for folks who do walk, bike, and take transit to games, or travel through the neighborhood for other reasons on game days.