More Parking Around Wrigley Will Only Bring More Traffic

Chicago: Wrigley Field
People get to Wrigley Field by all modes. Photo: Wally Gobetz.

The Cubs are expected to announce a deal with Alderman Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward later today that would add a large parking garage and a hotel to the area near Wrigley Field, as well as modifications to the stadium itself. The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that “the Cubs have agreed to create extra parking in Wrigleyville” with up to 500 spaces on what is currently a gravel lot at Clark and Grace Streets.

Building a parking garage in this transit-accessible, walkable neighborhood is the wrong move. Instead of alleviating frustrations, it will only bring more car traffic to the area and make matters worse. Existing parking problems – a common complaint, for instance, is that residents cannot park in front of their homes because visiting drivers have violated the parking permit rules – are solvable without building an unsightly, anti-pedestrian, traffic-generating structure.

In fact, a garage will cause more problems than it solves, said civil engineer Ryan Wallace, who’s also a Lakeview resident and Cubs fan. A 500-car parking garage won’t just hold 500 cars that fans are already driving to Wrigleyville, he said. It will induce more car trips, since fans will know there’s more parking available. “You’re going to cause a greater amount of car trips than there are spaces to hold them,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the real capacity problem that needs to be solved is on the sidewalk. There’s not enough room for all the pedestrians trying to get to the stadium, who crowd the sidewalks alongside residents just trying to get home from the train stations. “People routinely spill over into the street,” he said.

It’s possible that the Cubs might add more than 500 parking spaces. Tunney’s website says “a strong majority of residents support requiring Wrigley Field to use neighboring land owned by the Cubs to provide parking for at least twenty percent of their capacity.” That would mean a structure that could hold thousands of cars.

The lot at Clark and Grace is zoned as a planned development, giving Zoning Administrator Patricia Scudiero – in addition to Tunney – some control over how many spaces would be here and what the structure would look like.

Wallace disagrees that a strong majority of residents support the parking structure. “I think he’s getting a lot of influence from the leaders from neighborhood groups, Lake View Citizens Council, the chamber of commerce – they are the vocal minority,” he said.

Eric Hanss, who lives near the stadium in the 46th Ward, has started a petition to ask Tunney and the Cubs not to “turn Lakeview into a parking lot.” It states:

The Cubs and your office should work together to improve transportation options and make good, profitable use of existing garages and lots. As one parking lot owner expressed in the Wrigley Field public hearing, she doesn’t want more competition. Current spaces don’t fill to capacity even on game days, and many sit idle in winter, adding little to the community.

“I started the petition because I saw the parking structure as a broader north side issue,” Hanss said. “We want to build capacity for local residents to advocate for safer transportation choices and better livability, more economic and cultural vitality.”

The petition currently has 173 signatures. It lists several possible solutions that “don’t put more cars on our streets”:

  • Offering transit passes in ticket packages
  • Conducting a study to understand parking inventory, pricing, and demand
  • Shared parking (e.g. letting Cubs fans park at neighborhood schools and institutions)

Wallace added that “it would be a no-brainer to allow Cubs ticket buyers to order a pre-loaded Ventra card (already registered to them when they give their information for the tickets), possibly purchased at a reduced cost, like the Groupon deal.” He also recommends re-routing the existing 154 Wrigley Field Express shuttle bus to the Irving Park Metra station to pick up fans from the northwest suburbs.

According to the Tribune, Tunney “said the Cubs provide far less parking than other Major League Baseball teams.” While this may be true, it should be recognized as a strength of Wrigley’s transit-rich location, not a weakness. The lack of parking has hardly diminished demand for the Cubs: The team is the most profitable in the majors. Fans are still finding ways to get to the stadium. What should be added to the neighborhood are enhancements that make it easier to arrive without a car, opening up the streets for smoother and faster trips to and through Wrigleyville by bike, on foot, or via bus or train.

Alderman Tunney’s office didn’t return a request for comment.

  • david vartanoff

    so a partial solution would be to enact a transit surcharge on ALL tix which in turn would be good for round trip on CTA. If the surcharge were say $2 but functioned as two rides, attendees are financially encouraged to ride CTA, while CTA gets a large check. Millions for transit not one cent for highways

  • He also recommends re-routing the existing 154 Wrigley Field Express
    shuttle bus to the Irving Park Metra station to pick up fans from the
    northwest suburbs.

    Great idea! Anything to promote walking, biking and public transit over driving as a way to get to Wrigley would be better than this clueless parking garage idea.

  • anon

    A parking garage is a terrible idea for many reasons, and I’m surprised to hear that drinking and driving hasn’t entered the conversation. Encouraging driving to a stadium only increases the odds that someone will leave the game inebriated and end up driving home.

  • Joseph Musco

    The Cubs supposedly “adopted” the Sheridan L stop years ago and which I think involved having a ceremony and placing a marker and doing nothing else. Moving forward the Sheridan/Irving Park station rebuild from the Red/Purple modernization would be a smart addition to any Wrigley deal. You could also add some wayfinding improvements so Cubs fans could walk to the Brown line stops. There is a lot of ways to get to Wrigley besides either driving or getting off at Addison.

    But I think no deal is happening and this will end up in court. The Cubs and the Mayor seem set on violating a valid contract with rooftop owners so I think nothing will happen outside of a court for a year or so.

  • Adam Herstein

    The Ricketts don’t care about the integrity of the neighborhood, only about money. They also want to put the rooftop owners out of business (despite being under contract for at least ten more years) by building giant ad screens in the outfield; Chicago landmark status be damned.

  • Adam Herstein

    The Purple Line Express stops at Sheridan on game days, as well.

  • BlueFairlane

    I have no sympathy for a batch of people whose sole business plan involves mooching off somebody else’s product.

  • Adam Herstein

    Yes, but the rooftops are a unique part of the neighborhood and part of the culture here. Plus, they do have a contract, so any action by the Ricketts to block their view would not hold up in court.

    I hear the view from up there sucks anyway.

  • mcass777

    Are you people high? Have you ever tried getting on the el right after a Cubs game. I have walked to Belmont to get a train because of the flood of people trying to get into the Addison station. Try going north from downtown on the el on a night game. Grand, Chicago, packed to the gills. Thousands take the train to and from the games. I don’t think the CTA could handle all 40000 fans on their system!
    What is going on here? No more parking lots, just shove more people on already crowded trains! Seriously?

  • I agree completely about transit capacity. So let’s use that parking garage money to add more CTA service and other types of sustainable transportation facilities – bike parking, shuttles from remote parking, etc.

  • mcass777

    What is ignored is the fact that the cars generate revenuse. There would be a “sin tax” for parking in that lot and I bet it would be high but people would pay it. Take the funds, pay for extra cops, add cars to the CTA, fix potholes, etc. I think the conversation is so often one sided with high fives all around and yet nobody thinks about pros and cons. I love going to Cubs game and you will never find me paying 30 bucks for parking. I know my way around , via bike or El – let some other fool pay an excessive tax and share the wealth. And do not flame me with a “Rickett money grabbing scheme”. They generate a CRAP load of revenue – just ask Tom Tunney. Besides the government does a great job of grabbing and wasting money as well!

  • Would the city be able to require the owner and operator of the parking garage (Cubs and their preferred vendor) “donate” some of that revenue to the CTA, to the police department? Even as part of a “planned development” negotiation?

  • Without cars in the way, buses can carry a lot of people. An articulated bus can hold 100 people. Keep its lane clear, with buses every 5 minutes, and you are carrying 2,000 people per lane per hour.

  • Seniorpunk

    As someone who lives near Wrigley, it is clear that building more parking is beyond stupid. It is simply following the example set by Rahm of building a city that is comfortable for those who would not be caught dead on public transportation. The Cubs should stop worrying about adding cars to the area and concentrate on winning a few games.