December 21st, 2006
BY FRAN SPIELMAN
After committing nearly $300 million to free agents this winter, the Cubs are more desperate than ever for cash not subject to Major League Baseball's revenue-sharing edict.
Enter the Dave Matthews Band, whose bus driver unloaded 800 pounds of human waste on a tour boat passing under the Kinzie Street bridge in 2004.
The Cubs are asking City Hall for permission to hold their second pair of outdoor concerts in two years -- this time starring Matthews on the weekend that follows July Fourth.
City Council approval is needed next month in order to seal a place in the band's busy schedule. The concerts are expected to be held July 8 and 9.
The concert precedent began in 2005 with a pair of Labor Day concerts by Jimmy Buffett.
In exchange, the Cubs agreed to donate $150,000 to neighborhood schools, take a one-year break from concerts and forfeit one of their 30 night games the following season. The sold-out Buffett concerts ended at 10:30 p.m., and seating was capped at the baseball limit of 41,000.
This time, the Cubs are prepared to abide by the curfew and seating caps and make a similar contribution to neighborhood schools or parks. But they're hoping to avoid the night game penalty, according to Mike Lufrano, Cubs vice-president of community relations.
The motivation for the concert series is money that would not fall under Major League Baseball's revenue-sharing umbrella.
For every dollar the Cubs earn on game days, 34 cents must be shared with other teams. For every dollar raked in at a concert, the Cubs get to keep 100 percent.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he's "not ready to give approval yet," in part because there's "more work to do on neighborhood protections, greater police presence and who the artist is."
David Winner, president of the Lake View Citizens Council, said his only concern is that the Cubs have chosen the same weekend as the annual Lake View Music Fest. The group hopes to work around that conflict by merging the two events into a Taste of Lake View.
East Lake View Neighbors has already signed on, but president Jim Murphy said it "might make sense" for the Cubs to give up a night game again.