Wrigley bars reluctantly agree to 7th inning alcohol break

Bar owners around Wrigley Field are going along with the city’s new seventh inning break rule for the Cubs’ upcoming playoffs, but they may not be doing so willingly.

Heather Way, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, says many business owners fear retribution from the city through inspections or the loss of liquor licenses.

“They’re going along with it, but I think they’re just hesitant to go against anything coming from downtown,” Way says.

Ray Orozco, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communication, says there’s no reason for business owners to be afraid.

“Obviously, we’re not going to do anything to anyone who doesn’t do this,” Orzco says, “but my understanding is that as of right now today and a meeting we had yesterday, we have 100 percent cooperation.”

The city announced the agreement today, along with other measures to increase security surrounding the playoff games. Bars complying with the new seventh inning break would mirror the actions of the ballpark itself – not serving alcohol from the end of the seventh to the ninth inning. The plan would only apply to home clinch games during the rest of the playoff season.

Bars can resume serving alcohol if the clinch games go into extra innings, officials say.

Way says the agreement creates problems -- it will cost bar owners money and could promote binge drinking among fans.

“You’ll have waitstaff standing around with nothing to do -- not serving, not making money,” she says.

City officials say they are not worried that the two-inning ban will promote binge drinking.

Alderman Tom Tunney (D-44) says the bars know how to handle fans.

“They know how to run their establishment. They know how to serve alcohol properly,” Tunney says.

She also said the agreement was a surprise to businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, both of whom are used to dealing with the city in the annual pre and post season meetings. Way said nothing about the new regulation was mentioned at these meetings.

Orozco said they have been working with the bars and restaurants for weeks.

Way says she thinks the haste is due to the city’s bid for the Olympics.

“I think that it’s a way to prove that we can handle large crowds if we get the Olympics,” Way says.

In addition to the break, the 23rd district will be increasing police presence on the streets and creating a unified command post at Clark and Waveland.

“We have a track record. We’ve done this in 2003 and in the past,” Deputy Police Chief Bruce Rottner says,  “Chicago sports teams don’t win very often, but when they do, it’s been in here in Chicago.”

The Cubs will play Game 1 and 2 of the National League Division Series at home. Game one begins at 5:30 p.m. today at Wrigley Field. 

Discuss

MATT BARON, 10-28-2008

Cubs made sure this wasn't an issue for long!

HENRI IDROVO, 01-02-2009

I don't live in Wrigleyville or hang out there much, but was it that dangerous or rowdy to begin with? How necessary was this ban?