A bar near Wrigley?  That’s it, I’m moving!

Finally! A place to drink near Wrigley Field!

Wrigleyville took stock Thursday of a new, year-round sports bar that will spill out of Wrigley Field and be open by the Cubs’ first home game April 13.

Without much fanfare, renovations have been completed at what had been the Friendly Confines Cafe inside the ballpark. The new sports bar, to be run by Harry Caray’s, will include that indoor space as well as a 7,000-square-foot patio featuring a 2,600-square-foot pavilion.

The year-round facility near the cobblestoned corner of Sheffield and Addison will increase commerce in a neighborhood already contending with 81 Cubs home games, playoffs the last two seasons, three night-time concerts in a single week this summer, a proposed hotel complex across the street and even a hockey game in January.

“The congestion,” exclaimed Wrigleyville resident Kurt Govertsen as he stood across the street and watched construction. “My gut reaction was, ‘God, it’s one more thing.’ “

This Govertsen fella is the only one complaining in the article. He goes on:

When there are night games, Govertsen said, it takes him 90 minutes to drive home from downtown. On concert nights last summer, Govertsen said he stayed in a hotel near his office.

One more sports bar next to so many others likely won’t change the area much, he said. But the 12-year resident of the neighborhood wondered if this might be the thing that drove him to move.

“The traffic keeps getting worse and worse,” Govertsen said, as concrete construction saws whistled across Addison.

“This might put me over the edge.”

Let’s see: Govertsen is a “twelve year resident” of the neighborhood, the night games are what bothers him, and the night games started there in 1988. I’ll grant him that the concerts may be a bit much, but he should have known what he was in for when he moved in so my sympathy for his evening drive home is limited. And that’s even before taking into account that he works and lives in neighborhoods served by a subway. I mean really: don’t people who live in Wrigleyville and work downtown take the El? If not, why not?

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  1. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “45 minutes or so of having your junk pressed up against five or six sweaty strangers’ junk, back crammed against a door that seems too flimsy to actually support any of your weight, having (at best) a minor anxiety attack.”

    Careful Bill:  you’re describing the love life of about 75% of my readers there, so let’s not be too judgmental.

  2. Levi Stahl said...

    I tend to have very little sympathy for Wrigleyville residents who complain about baseball traffic. That sympathy dips into the negative when the substance of their complaint is the length of time it takes them to drive home from a place that no sensible person would drive to in the first place.

    That said, this gives the sense of a story that was constructed in advance: editor says, hey, go out and get a story about this new bar the Cubs are opening and how pissed the neighbors are. Reporter did their best but only got one dude to complain, because, really, even the most frustrated of Wrigleyville residents know better than to worry about one more bar.

  3. pete said...

    I saw this article in the RedEye on the way to work this morning.

    Of all the things, this is what pushes the guy over the edge? One more cheesy sports bar packed with college kids is gonna ruin the neighborhood. Really?

    This is like being upset when they want to open a Hooters in Amsterdam’s red light district.

  4. Richard in Dallas said...

    As far as I can tell, the only insurmountable drawback to living within walking distance of the true baseball fan’s Garden of Eden would be the weather.  On my last trip to Wrigley (Friday, July 12th, 2002) I had to buy my son a long sleeve sweatshirt because of the low 60’s temperature during a day game.  It was the Cubbies first home game after the break, and not only was it unseasonably chilly, but the game went 17 innings!  A Marlins left fielder who’s name escapes me gave himself a concussion diving into the ivy for a fly ball.  Guess he thought that the ivy would provide enough padding between his head and the BRICKS!

  5. easyw said...

    I also have zero sympathy for current Wrigleyville residents.

    The neighborhood began changing from a (mostly) Mexican blue collar working class regular neighborhood after the Cubs won the NL East in 1984. People realized what a unique gem the area was, and moved in en mass.

    Night games were added in 1988….  and most of the last remaining lifetime residents moved out.

    I was a resident of that neighborhood in 1992-3 when I was in my early 20s. Even then, the area was getting crowded, etc… I didn’t have a desire for that type of lifestyle (getting my car towed, people peeing in my alley), and moved away. There are plently of other cool trendy neighborhoods in Chicago in many different price zones – anyone who is ‘fed up’ with ‘one more thing’ can move.

    Anyone who lives up there and commutes via car is a bonehead. There are also other alternatives to the red line – namely the brown line, the Metra (which stops in the city, not too far away), a bus, a cab, or even walking (its only 3 miles from downtown to Wrigley). This bellyachin is pathetic.

  6. Stormin Norman said...


    I have read your site for a longtime and even linked to it on my own blog.  I think it’s great and will continue to be a loyal reader, but I have never commented until now.

    This issue is personal to me in that I lived in Wrigleyville for about 3-4 years in college.  While your observations and the comments here do make valid points, what people who don’t live there seem to misunderstand is that the pols in the neighborhood fool us.  When I moved there, I specifically inquired into night games and bar hours.  I was told there would only be a limited number of night games and that the local alderman would fight to keep it that way, along with limiting the number of bars and making them close earlier.

    Surprise surprise, every 6 months or so I received letters telling me that the amount of night games would be increasing.  In fact, there was a town hall meeting with the alderman regarding the night games.  I attended and a ton of residents, including myself, expressed our outrage at the increasing number of night games and other problems in the neighborhood.  The alderman told us that he promised there would be no more night games.

    3 months later, 6 more night games.  So it’s not like people don’t know what they are getting into, but the team and the City have been disingenuous at best and criminal at worst in the misrepresentations they made and continue to make to residents.

  7. Anthony said...

    I’ve got a buddy who moved into wrigleyville ~2 years ago, just three blocks north from the stadium.  He works in city hall downtown and takes the bus from his corner north of wrigley all the way to work. So add bus to subway as a method of transportation.

  8. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Norman—I’m sorry to hear about the bait and switch the leaders there put you through.  I suppose, unfortunately, that’s the Chicago way.  Wait, who am I kidding. That’s the way all over the place.

    When it comes to that sort of thing I’m a pessimist. If they say they won’t let another Walgreen’s go up on that corner, you can bet there will be a CVS up soon.  If they say that the surveyors are only there for an environmental study, you can bet that the highway will be going through within a year or two.  If they say that there’s going to be a limited number of night games, you can bet that that limit will eventually be 81.  At least in non-playoff years.

  9. Stormin Norman said...

    Craig- I know, it was naive of me, but regardless it was BS.

    And by the way, from a resident of most of these lakefront neighborhoods in Chicago: if you drive to work downtown you’re an idiot (sorry about the personal attack).  It’s 15-20 minutes on the bus/train.  Parking and traffic are a nightmare in any of these neighborhoods, Cubs or not.

  10. Rob Moore said...

    Last time I took the El to a game, it was to Comiskey/Cell/whatever they’re calling today.  The two train doors closest to me and my friend opened, and we were faced with the choice of packing ourselves in with A) a group of rowdy Sox fans, or B) a gaggle of Japanese schoolgirls.

  11. easyw said...

    also inportant to note:

    —there have been ‘year round’ sports bars in the neighborhood for years – High Tops and Cubby Bear among them… and they promote tons of non-baseball gatherings, like March Madness, the Super Bowl, college football, and Bears games.
    —speaking of Bears games, don’t forget that the Bears played on average 8 games per season at Wrigley for half a century (1920s thru the early 1970s). Wrigley Field has always been a multi-use sports and entertainment venue, and no one has ever hidden that fact from the nearby residents.
    —the Metro concert venue and its adjoining Smart Bar club – which have been there since the early 1980s – draw between a few dozen to about 1000 people per day EVERY DAY into that neighborhood…

  12. Richard in Dallas said...

    @jason in new york

    could very well have been.  It was a very busy week for the two of us (BAL @ CWS Sunday, HR Derby Mon, AL @ NL Tue, Fanfest Wed., PIT @ MIL Thu, FLA @ CHC Fri, you may have seen us on SportsCenter in MIL on WED holding a poster of a “NO” emblem with a necktie in the middle as Kenny Mane said “No ties in Milwaukee today!”).  Back to the main subject here – What a GREAT neighborhood to live in if you’re a baseball fan, but if you’re not, it makes about as much sense for you to live there as it would a scuba diving nut to live in Phoenix.  If you’re there and you hate it, MOVE (or, alternately, SHUT THE HELL UP!!)

  13. TLA said...

    Why not?  Because Govertsen makes the kind of cheddar that allows you to drive and, if you so desire, stay in a hotel mere miles away from your house because you don’t want to be hassled with traffic.

  14. Rob Moore said...

    Cause he’s a doofus with more money than brains and a strongly developed sense of entitlement.  Parking downtown costs $200-300 a month; and Wrigleyville has been Wrigleyville for a long, long time.  If the neighborhood no longer suits him, he should move rather than expect the neighborhood to change to suit him.

    He especially should take the El when there’s a night game!  It’s not like they happen randomly.

  15. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Good for him, but if he’s going to drive in a densely populated town well-served by mass transit, I’m not going to be too sympathetic to his complaints about traffic.

  16. Bill said...

    - I don’t understand people who drive anywhere around here, especially from Wrigleyville.

    - I don’t understand complaining about living near Wrigley Field.

    - I’m pretty sure Wrigleyville was a congested, noisy, drunken, wonderful mess twelve years ago, and I’m pretty sure it was pretty easy to obtain that information prior to up and moving there.

    That said, the Red Line El gets impossibly crowded for night games, too, so the alternative on those days isn’t a quick little train ride, but rather 45 minutes or so of having your junk pressed up against five or six sweaty strangers’ junk, back crammed against a door that seems too flimsy to actually support any of your weight, having (at best) a minor anxiety attack.

    Still, beats dealing with the traffic…

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