Will There Be More Concerts At Wrigley Field In 2012?
By Samantha Abernethy in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 31, 2012 8:45PM
Photo of Paul McCartney's 2011 show at Wrigley Field by Flickr contributor efroten
Two acts have already been announced to play shows at Wrigley Field this summer, but rumors are swirling about additional acts raising the question of whether Wrigley will host more concerts than usual this year. As of right now the rumors are just that, but both the Cubs organization and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) were open to the possibility of more events.
Recently there were hints at a possible Bruce Springsteen show, and a photograph circulated of what appears to be a Live Nation tour itinerary for Phish with two shows at Wrigley on July 4 and 5, found via Gapers Block.
Live Nation spokesman Jon Reens said neither of those rumors have been confirmed yet. "Currently, we have two shows at Wrigley Field this summer - the first being Roger Waters The Wall Live on 6/8/12, and the second being Brad Paisley’s Virtual Reality Tour 2012 on 6/9/12," wrote Reens in an email.
Julian Green, VP of communications and community affairs for the Cubs, said the same, adding that they'd "certainly like Wrigley Field to be at the top of the list" if Springsteen does come to town. Green said scalper sites jumped at the Boss rumors and already tried to sell tickets to a show that doesn't exist.
A city ordinance requires each special event at Wrigley Field be approved by the City Council, and Ald. Tunney is the gatekeeper. Tunney's director of Communications Max Bever said both the rumors are "just considerations."
"There's been a lot of chatter and people talking about Bruce Springsteen coming and looking at availabilities, but nothing that's been confirmed either way," Bever said. He added that Tunney is open to the possibility of more events, provided the community agrees.
The Wrigley Field Neighborhood Protection Plan details the guidelines for Wrigley events. "Every concert is separate and voted upon by City Council," Bever said. "Each concert is an exception to that." The concerts were a novelty in 2005—and as recently as 2009—but now Chicago has come to expect a big-name act to rock the Friendly Confines at least once per year.
"As it's become a bit more commonplace, it's something the community gets excited about," said Bever.
Bever said the alderman is open to creating a 3-year or 5-year agreement to ease that process, so the city doesn't have to grant an exemption for each event. As for the previously mentioned Phish and Springsteen rumors, Bever confirmed that the alderman doesn't currently have any new events proposals in the works.
Wrigley has also hosted hockey games and college football games. It even hosted a snowmobiling event last year, plus a special movie night showing Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Green says that it hasn't been an upward trend, though.
"We're always interested in hosting events beyond baseball," said Green, "but if you look at the last seven years, the number of concerts we've had at Wrigley Field have gone up and down."
Then there's the money factor. It's no secret that when the Cubs have a bad season, turnout is down at Wrigley. In June last year the Cubs were on a list of Major League Baseball teams in violation of debt service rules. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs cannot borrow to pay existing debt but must raise revenue or reduce expenses to pay existing non-player-related debt.
In short, they need money, and the concerts don't hurt the local economy, either. Last summer's Paul McCartney show brought in $500,000 in amusement taxes for Chicago and Cook County, Green said.
The number of events possible is limited by the Cubs' 81 home games, the artists' availability and the community—Wrigley will not host night shows while school is in session, Green said.
"It's the baseball season that plays a role in the ability to book events," Green said. As for more movie nights, the Ferris Bueller showing was a success, but Green said, "Keep in mind that was in October, and we'd like to be playing baseball."