The nightmare scenario for the Cubs at Wrigley Field would be the terrorist attacks that besieged Paris two months ago, when explosions went off outside Stade de France during the French national team’s soccer match against Germany.
The agenda for Major League Baseball’s ownership meetings next week in South Florida includes a briefing from the Department of Homeland Security, trying to protect the business and prevent that kind of large-scale attack.
President of business operations Crane Kenney said the Cubs are installing metal detectors for this season at Wrigley Field and working with City Hall to try to shut down Clark and Addison on gamedays and control the streets around the iconic ballpark.
“Certainly, Paris got everyone’s attention,” Kenney said during a Cubs Convention presentation on Saturday at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. “Large venues like Wrigley Field are targets. And we got to do everything we can to protect our fans, our players and our neighborhood.”
In another safety measure, the Cubs will also extend the netting to the inside edge of the home-plate side of the dugouts, trying to shield fans from foul balls. A stadium that had been literally falling apart in certain spots is getting something close to a $600 million facelift with this Wrigleyville project.
[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]
The Cubs don’t know where the next threats might come from — Wrigley Field had to be evacuated postgame after a bomb threat last August — but the Paris attacks rattled Kenney.
“The thing that used to keep me awake all night was the concrete and steel in our ballpark, which we’re fixing,” Kenney said. “The thing that keeps me awake all night now is the crazy times we live in.
“The next morning, I rounded my team up and I said: ‘Listen, we got to talk about what we do next.’ We hired a consultant. We went to the league for help. Because we play in such a tight urban environment, we’re not surrounded by a sea of parking lots like a lot of (other) ballparks.
“If you go to Dodger Stadium, they control their perimeter for hundreds and hundreds of yards. And they know who’s there and can really ring fence (to control) who gets close to the ballpark and who doesn’t. We don’t have that advantage.”
Club officials are lobbying the city for control of a 100-foot perimeter in each direction of the ballpark at a time when the Cubs are becoming a version of America’s Team and anticipating regular crowds of 40,000, plus Wrigleyville’s carnival atmosphere.
“We already have Sheffield and Waveland closed,” Kenney said. “We’re now talking about what we do on Clark and Addison and whether those should only be open to city traffic, meaning emergency vehicles, police and buses.
“You’ve all been there on Addison — you’re six feet from the ballpark. That sidewalk’s six-feet wide. We would love to know who’s driving what and what they are doing next to the ballpark while the games are going on.”