If we can handle this now-annual spectacle, we can certainly handle Rascal Flatts. (AP Photo)
Not all Wrigleyville neighbors oppose the booking of a Rascal Flatts show at Wrigley Field July 18. As a resident of the neighborhood who lives in a high-traffic area within earshot of the stadium's hot dog vendors, I welcome any and all events that will help buoy the people and businesses who depend on nights like the one in question during these tough economic times.
An extra concert means my neighbors directly to the south will be able to fill their parking lot another day out of the month at payday of at least $50/car. It means my upstairs neighbor, a bartender at one of the local establishments, will have another extra-lucrative payday that eclipses the average game-less Saturday night. We can't afford to take the a cash cow off the pasture during a recession. To do so would only make sense to someone who has no idea what it means to be living paycheck to paycheck right now.
Southport Neighbors Association president Jill Peters told Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman, "Based on their agreement in the past to limit concert events to two nights per year, their request has been met. A third -- especially on a Saturday night -- would be too much for the community to endure on top of a festival. It's piling on too much for a community already stressed during baseball season."
The community isn't stressed those 81 nights a year the Cubs play home games. Stressed how? Cars? We deal with them. Foot traffic? Only helps local businesses. Risk of drunken revelry? There's not a weekend all year that's not a concern. We deal with it.
If I didn't like the crowds, the congestion, the morning-after vomit on the sidewalks, my solution would be swift and definite: I would move.
I argue there's nothing that is too much for my community to endure.
We're Wrigleyvillians. Summer is temporary. There's only so many chances we have to make the type of money we would on a night like this. In other words, bring it. While we're at it, why not book someone ridiculous at the Metro that night? We can handle it.
You don't move to Wrigleyville because you enjoy tame, peaceful summers. You move there because you want to be in the thick of it. Because Wrigleyville in the summer reminds us why we endure Chicago winters.
The argument is also made that the concert conflicts with the Saturday night of the Southport Festival. I would argue that holding a concert in the neighborhood would only bolster attendance to the festival. If people are coming to the neighborhood in droves for the show, it's quite possible, even probable, that a good number of them will find their way to the festival.
Peters told the Trib, "The solution would be to allow the two nights for Billy Joel and Elton John and to cancel the Rascal Flatts concert on the Saturday night." That sounds like less of a solution and more of a question of musical taste. Or could it be an unwarranted disdain for country music fans in general?
I've covered a Rascal Flatts show. The makeup was no different than that of a Cubs game. Their fans don't strike me as the type who would go out of their way to roll up to the Southport Festival to begin with. But there's the distinct possibility that they'd be up for walking over there afterward.
And if we're talking air pollution? I'd much rather have a real band polluting my air than a stream of cliche Chicago summer festival acts who routinely butcher one bad cover song after another.
Cancel the Rascal Flatts show? I'd rather move.