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: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/9452880@N05/2321707331/##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.

  • No Ur Fax

    “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 difficult to imagine practical alternatives coming from many of the suburbs. Rely on an hourly Metra schedule and you can be spending more time traveling than you are at the actual game.

  • As someone who lives up here, I gotta wonder what they’re doing with that concrete the other (365-x) days of the year when there isn’t a Cubs game?

    Can we get a farmer’s market on it, or something?

  • DrMedicine

    It would be helpful if there was some kind of temporary brt shuttle. I suspect many are deterred from the remote lot by the prospect of being crammed into a bus stuck in traffic.

  • david vartanoff

    So try this. Any large ticket event (10k attendees or more) should carry a surcharge of whatever the current single CTA fare is but the ticket to the event should be valid as a one day pass for CTA usage. The point here is to charge all of the attendees, give that money to CTA to afford enhanced service, and discourage driving. Events at Soldiers Field should include a day pass on Metra Electric with the same structure,

  • No Ur Fax

    These tickets already face huge taxes and surcharges above the normal sales tax. You can’t tax your way out of every problem.

  • Would it kill these folks to pump a little more money into the Chicago economy by spending time at a restaurant, cafe or tavern before they catch their Metra train home?

  • Fred

    Shouldn’t the headline read “Will” instead of “Could”? This isn’t a proposal; this is imminent.

  • Fred

    Yeah, I mean what’s another hour past little Timmy’s bedtime on a Tuesday night with school the next day?

  • david vartanoff

    So the problem is disincenting driving to the ball game (or other large event) thus if supply is not increased then demand needs to be redirected. Since I hope we all agree bulldozing enough acreage to build parking for even half the capacity of Wrigley Field is unacceptable, then some sort of mass transit IS the answer. The next issue is how to pay for the extra service needed–in effect two extra rush hours centered on the venue. If you object to billing the attendees, then let us hear you call for more dedicated funding for CTA spread over all taxpayers in the service district (which means subsidizing suburbanites who drive in and park a couple neighborhoods away taking the L or bus the last mile or so). My plan makes the attendees contribute to the cost while encouraging them not to drive.
    Pane et circuitum are necessary for the pax americana.

  • Cameron Puetz

    The Tribune is reporting that the Cubs are leasing the lot from Basic Wire and Cable. It looks like this is an existing lot that’s currently only used during normal business hours.

  • Fred

    I can get behind the CTA idea, but ME to Soldier Field just isn’t fair. The service area is so small that 90% of attendees have no realistic chance of actually using it.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    And it costs about $60 for a family of four to take Metra and CTA to Wrigley. $5 Metra ticket each way, $2 CTA fare each way… I’m not sure what parking is near Wrigley but I don’t think its anywhere near that.

  • No Ur Fax

    The CTA already has enhanced service on game days. There is no need to figure out to pay for it if it actually runs at full capacity, the losses are negligible at worst. Additionally, your plan will punish everyone who walks and the small handful of folks who ride their bikes. It punishes the people who take the PACE bus in or takes those large group shuttles in, and if you don’t think its a lot check out Irving Park between Clark and Sheridan.

    If you want to disincentive driving to the game, then perhaps consider raising the gas tax.

    I don’t agree that it is unacceptable to build parking, so speak for yourself. Thanks to the market, it is currently fiscally irresponsible.

  • Metra is cheaper on weekends, and parking isn’t the only expense associated with driving to Wrigley — there’s also gas, wear-and-tear, etc.

  • skyrefuge

    It looks like it doesn’t even get used during normal business hours (which explains why it’s available for the Cubs since some of their games are during normal business hours). It’s more of a “store random semi trailers and old wire spools but mostly leave it completely unused” kind of space. Not much of a place for a farmer’s market though. Here’s the aerial view:

    http://goo.gl/vKLDuP

    The saddest part is that scrolling through the history in Google Earth reveals that the giant black-roofed building to the south of the lot was once entirely surrounded by grass and trees, but in 2004 they paved their whole property over. You know, because there weren’t any other vast expanses of empty pavement nearby.

  • skyrefuge

    No, it wouldn’t precisely kill them, but if you think the idea of “pumping money into the economy” is sufficient incentive for the 99.99% of people who aren’t progressive-minded bloggers to make economic decisions and alter their behavior, I think you’re destined to spend the rest of your progressive-minded blogging life banging your head into a wall.

  • DK

    They need to fix the 383 zone and the scofflaws who avoid getting city stickers or registering their cars in the city… those people represent a bigger chunk of those wasting valuable parking space in the neighborhood.

  • Well, if altruism won’t inspire them, perhaps their desire for tasty eats and drinks will!

  • Still, a 4-person car trip to Wrigley is about the same cost as a 1-person car trip to Wrigley … but Metra scales per-person. That’s the group the free parking shuttle is aiming at.

  • Jim Mitchell

    Metra has weekend family specials that allow kids under 11 to ride free, and they also sell $7 weekend passes for the adults ($7 for unlimited use of Metra on the weekend). So, if the kids are under 11, it would cost a two-parent family just $14 for the Metra part of the trip. Children under 7 ride CTA for free; children under 11 pay a reduced fee to ride CTA. All in all, given the costs of Cubs tickets and all the pretzels and soda the kids are going to eat, the transit part of the overall cost is not much of a deterrent to most suburban families who have the disposable income to even contemplate a family outing to a Cubs game.

    Also, kids LOVE riding the train. It’s part of the fun for them.

  • david vartanoff

    oh, no. In my view Soldier Field event tix would be from anywhere on MED. What that should mean is that between CTA, MED and South Shore Line (not sure how to price, but clearly a market), many fans can find a way to the event without drivinginto the area. And in the future, I believe CTA should build a station at United Center. Mass transit should serve mass attractions, no?

  • cjlane

    “I don’t agree that it is unacceptable to build parking,”

    But the strawman was “bulldozing acres”, not merely “building parking”. Safe to say you are not in favor of “bulldozing acres” in Wrigleyville to create Sox/Bulls sized parking lots?

  • david vartanoff

    So I would have the PACE buses accept the same ticket/voucher. I am not trying to “punish” any transit user, but yes I am not happy wasting land on parking.
    So, yes, ultimately I can only speak for myself although I would hope to persuade others.

  • oooBooo

    The typical way of encouraging transit in Chicago. Make driving more expensive and difficult. Just make the alternative worse until transit looks better. Absurd. How about making the transit less loop centric?

    It only took a 1/4 century to get a Metra stop for IIT and Sox Park. Before then to get to IIT or Comiskey park from the south suburbs required going all the way to the loop and then taking the green or red line L back south. 25+ years just to get a stop, the tracks didn’t have to be moved, no new line had to be built, just a friggin’ platform. But all those years transit was ‘encouraged’ by making driving worse. Now there’s a station so people just take the train without any “encouragement”.

  • what_eva

    the question is whether the lot will get used or not, not whether it will exist.

  • I would personally agree with you — but I’m already a transit convert. You would NOT BELIEVE the amount of whining about ‘cost’ that happens when my California in-laws (two adults, one 13-yo, one 11-yo, three kids under 7) are in town. We want to go to the beach — I suggest the bus. They act like they’ll have to get out an adding machine and a tax lawyer to count up three full-price CTA fares both ways for them and two for us (one sub-7 kid) and two for the grandparents — they’d muuuuuch rather make us take three cars (because we won’t fit in two) and pay for PARKING for three cars and sit in traffic.

    They freak out about $12 of CTA fares, but think $20 parking at the zoo (per car — for THREE CARS) is TOTALLY normal. There’s some kind of alien-ness hump that the CTA has to get over to feel ‘possible’ to them, because the car is so much their normal, assumed method.

  • Mishellie

    Agreed, for families. I went to a night game at 23 and just wanted to go to bed afterward, not deal with the drunken bro crowd at the bars/restaraunts.

    I’d imagine it’s even more tiring/difficult with kids.

  • Fred

    Yes, so “Will Free Remote Cubs Parking Help Keep Cars Out of Wrigleyville?”

  • kastigar

    The proposed parking will be adjacent to Revere Park – which has several baseball fields, tennis courts, a children’s playground and a field house that has athletics in it. Also, there’s a neighborhood Boys and Girls Club there as well.

    What is this additional traffic before and after the ball games going to add? Will more traffic be bad for Revere Park?

  • No Ur Fax

    Presumably, people will not be driving their car in the park. As for the traffic in the park now, last time I checked operating a motor vehicle in a park was illegal. Cubs folks will stick with the street.

  • Alex_H

    x = 81? :)

  • Looking at the map, I think they’re presuming most cars will be arriving from the highway (which is west of the site) and turning down Rockwell (which is the west edge of the park’s big square o’grass).

    The shuttle busses should in my opinion come out the east end of the lot (onto Campbell at Berenice), go straight down to Addison and over to the park. There’s a gate there, but no curb-cut. The Cubs could probably pay to get it refurbished into an only-used-by-game-busses-on-game-days exit for the lot, to minimize impact on the neighborhood. Otherwise the busses come out Rockwell too, up to Irving Park and east to something arterial to go south to Addison.

    So the new car traffic only ever traverses the west edge of the park, which isn’t the most foot-traffic-friendly area in the first place. There are no houses on the other side of Rockwell, and most of that edge of it has an iron fence.

    The east edge of the park, on Campbell, does abut a residential neighborhood, but as long as the signage clearly tells Cubs parkers to take Rockwell (they’ll pass it first, too), impact on the park should be minimal.

  • Riverboy

    This doesn’t make sense. They are just pushing the cars to another neighborhood that will now suffer. Off site parking is fine but put it next to public transit. Have people get out of there car and into a train.
    What is the city and Cubs doing to make sure people will not park in the side streets…. they will because Rockwell is narrow and trying to get 1000 cars in there is going to create an endless bottleneck….

    All the surrounding residential street should be sealed off and protected from the people that will cut through….
    There was recently a traffic study done for a day care that was planned for the Irving and Rockwell intersection…. it didn’t include the Cubs parking traffic… this is a disaster in the making… April 1st there is a community meeting…. let’s be there to prevent the chaos that is coming

  • Matt Nesheim

    Maybe if Chicago would get off their asses and modernize their train system (The L) by actually re-engineering the tracks and the actual trains you could get most people to use them. I tried it one time. Lets just say that I think I got whiplash from the train zooming up to speed and then all of a sudden and without warning Jamming on its brakes (apparently it has to slow down for “bad” sections of track). The train would zoom faster for 5 seconds and then BAM… Then it starts zooming again and 3 seconds later its BAM. Then it starts speeding up again and Bam…Bam. Its a Freaking joke and the City of Chicago should be embarrassed to have such a P.O.S. for a train system. Dont tell me that they dont have the money either. The Tollways all around the suburbs rake in Billions annually.
    Chicago needs to tear our EVERY foot of track and re-design the contour of the tracks. Maybe try putting some of them underneath the freeways so expressways like the Edens can have more than 3 friggin lanes per side. People would be more than happy to take the train in to the game if they weren’t so run-down.

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