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City Council Panel OKs Plan To Allow Hard Liquor Sales At Gallagher Way, Wrigley Field's Outdoor Plaza

by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Three years after it opened, the plaza outside Wrigley Field will soon be able to sell hard liquor, in addition to beer and wine, although the Cubs still won't be able to open Gallagher Way to people who don't have a ticket on the days of games or concerts.

The City Council License Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a five-year agreement that would allow the Cubs to start selling hard liquor at Gallagher Way this year.

All alcohol would have to be sold in hard plastic cups, and would be limited to three ounces for hard liquor, 6.3 ounces for wine, and 16 ounces for beer, under the ordinance introduced by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigley Field.

Tunney was on vacation for Wednesday's vote, but his chief of staff presented the agreement to aldermen on the License Committee.

Under Tunney's ordinance, alcohol sales at Gallagher Way would have to end no later than 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; except on game days, when alcohol sales would have to end within an hour of any game that starts before 4:10 p.m., by the end of a baseball game that starts after 4:10 p.m., or by 11 p.m. if any game continues past 11 p.m.

The Cubs also would be allowed to host up to 12 large-scale special events at the plaza when the team isn't playing at Wrigley Field.

The ordinance defines a "high-impact special event" at the plaza as any event that "requires a Special event permit; has an expected attendance of 1,000 people or more; and includes a concert, watch partv for a sporting event that is being aired while the sporting event is being played other than a Chicago Cubs home game, or festival.

Festivals that last up to three days would count as one special event.

The Cubs would be allowed to host an unlimited number of smaller events, with less than 1,000 guests.

For special events, alcohol sales can start two hours before the event and must end one hour before the event itself. No matter what time a special event is held, alcohol sales are banned from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The plaza would have to close by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, except for when there's a night game or special event, when Gallagher Way would have to close within 45 minutes of the end of the event.

Cubs assistant director of government affairs Heather Way-Kitzes praised the agreement with Tunney, but admitted the team was hoping to loosen the rules for the plaza even further.

Specifically, the Cubs had been seeking to open up the plaza to people who don't have a ticket on the days of ballgames or concerts, but that was a non-starter for Tunney.

The alderman has said allowing potentially thousands more people to crowd into the plaza when the stadium itself is already filled with nearly 42,000 fans would essentially be a logistical nightmare for the police and the community, not to mention the extremely limited parking in the area.

The Cubs had also been hoping to keep the plaza open for up to three hours after games, but Tunney would not agree to that.

"We did not get everything we had hoped," Way-Kitzes said.

The ordinance now goes to the full City Council for final approval next week.

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