Reactions to Wrigley’s New Security Cameras

Photo: Evan Rogerson

Chicago residents reacted with both support and confusion to the Chicago Cubs’ $1 million grant to the city to pay for new security cameras around Wrigley Field.

Wrigleyville Alderman Tom Tunney announced Tuesday, May 23rd that the Cubs would be paying for 30 new security cameras to be set up around Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood.

Chris Jessup, Director of Public Safety and Community Affairs, said that the cameras will be owned by the city and will be connected to Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications 911 network. While the exact locations of the cameras have not yet been finalized, Jessup said that the general locations will be between Belmont and Irving Park, and Lake Shore Dr. and the Kennedy Expressway.

Jessup said that the addition of more private security and cameras is a positive step in the right direction as the Cubs’ and neighborhood’s popularity continues to grow.

“We’ve always had a very high influx of visitors for Cubs games, and winning the World Series magnifies that,” he said. “Not only is the stadium full, but the neighborhood is busy and crowded.”

Wrigleyville resident Adam Chalifoux agrees.

“I think that obviously Wrigleyville is a huge sports hub in the city, and it’s becoming a huge cultural hub,” he said.

Link: Chicago Cubs Security

Chalifoux said that he’s seen how the neighborhood is transforming into a focal point for the city. He said that when a neighborhood becomes as popular as Wrigleyville is, it’s only fitting that you ramp up security and keep that neighborhood a little bit safer.

DePaul student and Chicago native Gavriel Wilkins said that he understands the move, but thinks that there are areas in Chicago that need security help a lot more than Wrigleyville does.

“When you look at a place like Wrigleyville, it’s a community where a lot of the people are already together, it’s a very tight-knitted community,” Wilkins said. “Like if something were to happen there, you will hear about that right away. As opposed to somewhere on the South Side.”

Wilkins said that he’d like to see the money go to other neighborhoods in Chicago that need more security measures and outreach. Speaking on the Cubs specifically, Wilkins said, “What I’d like to see them do is work with the community more in areas like Uptown where you have a large homeless population; places where some upheaval is going on in the community.”

Wilkins said there are other areas that are far more prone to violence than Wrigley.

Chalifoux said that while there are certainly other deserving areas in the city, he has personal experience with some of the safety hazards of living near Wrigley. He told a story of a time when one of his friends got thrown through a bar window because of a nearby altercation.

“Things happen. Especially when there’s a lot of drunk people around and when there’s a lot of passionate people around,” he said. “Sports are a haven for drunk people and passionate people.”

“Things can escalate quickly.”

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Murphy’s Bar during a recent Cubs game

Photo: Evan Rogerson

While the announcement of the plan to place the new cameras came just one day after the Manchester bombing, Jessup said that the plan for new security cameras was in place long before any specific terrorist attack. However, he did speak to the effect such an event does have on the city of Chicago.

“The attacks we’ve seen across the world have an impact on the way everyone looks at public safety and major events,” Jessup said. “Additional security measures are being explored for every venue and every event across the city.”

Related story: Allstate Arena steps up security following Manchester attack

Chalifoux said that he believes that Wrigley Field may indeed seem like a desirable target for terrorism.

“If you think about the kind of terrorist attacks that we’ve seen in the US and abroad, a sports-venue terrorist attack wouldn’t be out of the question,” he said. “Especially an area like Wrigley that’s become such a focal point for the city.”

Wilkins also said that he understood where people are coming from in the wake of terrorist attacks like the one in Manchester.

For some, security cameras are just the first step to making Wrigleyville a safer place. In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said that because of “recent international attacks,” the city should consider further security measures such as the closure of streets near Wrigley Field.

In response to this, Jessup said that “While both the Mayor and Alderman Tunney remain opposed to hard street closures of Clark and Addison, we will continue to work with the Cubs, OEMC, the police and Homeland Security to promote a safe and enjoyable experience around Wrigley Field.”

 

Photos: Evan Rogerson

Wilkins said that he understands the purpose of the security cameras.

“My father works in law enforcement so I understand they can provide a benefit for a given business or a given entity like the Chicago Cubs where you have million of visitors at a site such as Wrigley Field,” he said.

Chalifoux said that he thinks security cameras will help an area that is in need of more security measures.

“Overall, I think it’s pretty safe but I can’t tell you about a time when I’ve been inside the Taco Bell on Addison where there hasn’t been a fight,” he said. “There’s been one every time. It’s a really rowdy area.”

While the security cameras may generally be received as a welcome step forward to Wrigleyville residents like Chalifoux, it’s a fact that Wrigleyville and the greater Lake View neighborhood is nowhere near the top in crime rates.

However, a study conducted by CWB Chicago earlier this year showed a 41% increase in violent crimes within the Wrigleyville area.

Wilkins said that he thought the city should be focusing on implementing security measures like this in other areas of the city as well, particularly the South and West Side.

“The city should be taking care of it more,” he said. “It falls upon city leaders and officials. Not sports teams.”

 

 

 

 

A Guide to Streetball in Chicago

Photo: Evan Rogerson

Take a look at the complete guide to the best locations to play outdoor basketball in Chicago

Chicago outdoor basketball players say that there’s nothing better to do come summer time than shoot some hoops outside in the city.

“Chicago’s got a lot of places to play for real. It’s the best ballin’ out here,” said Stanton Park player Michael Lewis. “Outdoors is where it’s at. You got to play outdoors. You’re in the city, gotta make the most out of it.”

Stanton Park features three full-sized courts in great condition and one of them is lighted. The courts are situated right behind Skinner North Classical School and two of the courts are semi-fenced in as part of the school. The school uses these two courts for recess so during the day one should expect only one court to be available.

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Photos: Evan Rogerson

Link: Chicago Park District: Stanton Park

Lewis said while Stanton Park is a court he visits often because he lives nearby, he also regularly visits other courts around the city.

Sticking near the North Side, Clybourn Playlot Park is just a short walk away from Stanton. The single full-sized court is sandwiched between the L tracks and the busy N. Clybourn Ave. The court itself is in new condition and as long as you’re fine with shouting over the noise of the cars and trains passing through, there’s usually a solid group of people hanging around to get a game started.

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Clybourn Park

Photo: Evan Rogerson

Link: Chicago Park District: Clybourn Playlot Park

One of those people you might meet is Jason Okrzesik, a former ball player for basketball powerhouse Fenwick High in Oak Park. Okrzesik also played at the collegiate level, for Northwestern. Today, Okrzesik works at nearby C.H. Robinson, and spends time after work playing ball at the nearby court with his co-workers.

“It’s fun to get out here and just mess around every once in a while,” said Okrzesik. “It’s not a bad area. It’s great. The court’s beautiful.”

Okrzesik said he enjoys coming alone to just shoot around or play some full court games with his co-workers and other hoopers. Okrzesik and his friends play every Tuesday at 5:00 pm so if you’re looking for some competition, Clybourn Park might be a decent spot to check out.

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Photos: Evan Rogerson

Link: Jason Okrzesik ESPN

If you’re hanging around the Lincoln Park area, Wrightwood Park might be the destination to explore if you’re looking for a spot to ball. The park itself contains a fieldhouse, baseball field, football/soccer field, volleyball court, track, playground and swimming pool. There’s two lighted courts with 4 hoops apiece.

The courts’ surfaces may not be in pristine condition (one of the courts can actually flood during a rainy day) but it’s definitely one of the more popular places in the area for pickup games.

Wrightwood regular Dale Fanella said full 5-on-5 games are almost always available on days with decent weather. He said the busiest times on the court are weeknights after 5:00 pm and weekends from 10:00 am on.

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Photos: Evan Rogerson

Link: Chicago Park District: Wrightwood Park

Fanella said that he personally plays ball there almost every day.

“I’ve lived over here for like 5-6 years and have been here all the time, every day. People must be like what the f— is wrong with this guy,” he said.

Fanella’s die-hard attitude is shared among many outdoor ball players in the city.

“It’s not as hardcore round here as it is down south for sure,” said Lewis. “But at the same time there’s still a culture with this you know? Basketball and Chicago, that’s what it’s all about.”

That culture Lewis speaks of is present in every outdoor court in Chicago. It’s a swagger, a movement. I saw and heard it at every court I visited. Dale Fanella doesn’t leave untill he makes 300 shots. Jason Okrzesik taunts his co-workers after every made bucket. No matter where you are in the city, streetball is alive and well.

The Near North side courts discussed here are just a small sample of what Chicago has to offer. The map below shows the locations of the best spots to ball in the entire city.

If you find yourself near the South Side of Chicago, check out two of the most historic courts in the city.

Located a short walk from Chinatown, Margaret Hie Ding Lin Park is simply a court tucked underneath the L tracks and fenced in like a cage. The court is one of the most popular in the city because it’s been featured in commercials starring Chicago Bulls legends Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose.

Link: Chicago Park District: Margaret Hie Ding Lin Park

The over 500-acre Jackson Park extends into South Shore and Hyde Park neighborhoods. It is considered by some to be the best streetball location of them all.

Link: Chicago Park District: Jackson Park

“All the courts are great man,” said Lewis. “For real, there are so many ballers in this city and you find them out here at these courts. It’s fun man. People out here ballin for the culture. For the culture.”

 

Streetball in Chicago: Wrightwood Park

Take a sneak peek at STS’ guide to outdoor basketball in Chicago.

You’d think a hurricane had hit Chicago the way these courts looked. It had indeed rained the whole weekend before I got there that Monday afternoon, but the ongoing rain nor the small lake that had once been the park’s second court were stopping the park’s faithful from shooting some hoops. I sat down for a quick chat with a couple hoopers there and they said the current state of the courts didn’t worry them. Wrightwood Park is one of the Near North Side’s premier destination for outdoor ball. The park itself is large and family friendly, with a swimming pool and playground just a stone’s throw away from the courts. The pictures below showcase the essence of an urban court and the promise that summer may bring.

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The flooded oasis of the second court.
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“No Basketball After 9:30 pm.”
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Lincoln Park resident Dale Fanella gets some shots up.
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The sunshine breaks through.
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The courts.

Bulls Fans React to Making the Playoffs

Photo: “Bulls game” by Fuzzy Gerdes (CC 2.0)

The Chicago Bulls are in the playoffs as the 7th seed. But what are Bulls fans feeling heading in?

Disappointment. When an NBA team makes the playoffs, their fan base usually experiences a multitude of emotions: Elation, Excitement, Determination. But disappointment? It may seem out of place, but for many Chicago Bulls fans it’s the feeling that best epitomizes their emotions following another mediocre season.

“I have very little confidence in the Bulls this Playoffs,” says lifelong Bulls fan Hami Arain. “In my opinion the absolute ceiling of this team is the 2nd round.”

“I’m confident in the fact that they won’t go far. At this point they are such an inconsistent team and so up and down I don’t know what to expect,” said fellow fan Joe D’Amico.

Related Story: Hilarious Sign Captures Dilemma Facing Bulls Fans

While fans of other lower seeded teams like Portland or Indiana may be looking forward to the chance to make a run in the postseason, it seems that Bulls fans are already prepping themselves for a letdown. But who’s to blame for this extreme lack of faith?

“Get rid of the obviously toxic front office. Gar-Pax have been given a lot of time and have not yielded anything of worth,” says Aziz Al Othman. “There is also no immediate concrete plan for the future.”

Blaming the coaching and management rather than the players seemed to be a common occurrence among Bulls fans.

The Bulls are in this limbo of just good enough to maybe make the playoffs but just dysfunctional enough to never win it all

“The Bulls need a flush. Clean out the front office, hire people who can lead, and let them just torch the roster and coaching staff,” said D’Amico. “Then they need to, and this is crucial, declare a rebuild. The Bulls are in this limbo of just good enough to maybe make the playoffs but just dysfunctional enough to never win it all.”

It’s true that for years now, the Bulls have fought off a rebuild in order to squeak out a few short low-seeded playoff appearances. For Gavriel Wilkins, host of The New 24, it’s all about money rather than the fans.

“They have to show the fans that they’re committed to winning again, as opposed to being an organization that only cares about upholding past traditions and its overall bottom line.”

Related Story: The Complicated Mindset of a Bulls Fan in 2017 Playoffs

 

Chicago Bears’ Twitter Trolls Aaron Rodgers

Photo: “144041_MP4_6736” by Disney ABC Television Group (CC 4.0)

The Chicago Bears social media team decided to take a shot at Aaron Rodgers’ recent break up and everyone freaked out.

According to a People report published this past Friday, Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and actress Olivia Munn have ended their relationship after 3 years together. Now for some this was genuinely sad news, but in the eyes of a bitter rival, this was an opportunity that the Chicago Bears felt they couldn’t pass up.

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Screenshot: @ChicagoBears

The Bears’ official twitter posted the above gif of Aaron Rodgers and captioned it #FridayFeeling. Petty? Definitely. In bad taste? Perhaps. Hilarious? Absolutely. Of course for many Packers fans, the tweet was not funny at all. Checking the mentions of the tweet showed a surprising amount of outrage.

It didn’t take too long for the Bears’ social media team to delete the tweet. But was this really the right move? They had to have known the tweet would spark some serious backlash. While many people took this situation way too seriously, the fact is that it really was just a lighthearted jab at rival team. It’s the Bears and the Packers for goodness sake! Is one tweet taking a swing at Aaron Rodgers really that big of a deal?

I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t have been any backlash for the tweet. Considering for the most part Aaron Rodgers has absolutely owned the Bears for years, a response of some kind definitely should have been expected. The point is that none of this is a bad thing. The internet and social media have given professional teams a new platform to interact with each other. Virtual trash talk between teams isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s entertaining. And if a team can’t handle the heat, don’t send out the tweet!

Link: Chicago Tribune trolls Aaron Rodgers with headline