Photo of a Chicago Cubs day game at Wrigley Field.

Image Credit: Rex Hammock (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Day baseball is synonymous with the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. It provides the perfect excuse for Chicago area business professionals to play hooky or take a day off from work and head to Wrigley Field to witness America’s favorite pastime. But why do the Chicago Cubs play so many day baseball games? We found the answer to be rather surprising.

The Chicago Cubs, Chicago City Council and the Wrigleyville neighborhood have an agreement that the Cubs will only play so many night games each season because night games are a burden on the neighborhood. The burden is found in the noise from the game, the trash fans leave on the streets, the parking spaces fans take up on the street, the public drunkenness, etc. In fact, the "W" or “Cubs Win” flag was raised in the outfield to let Wrigleyville residents know whether or not the Cubs won that day when they returned home from work.

Former Chicago Cubs General Manager Dallas Green was the first person to propose night baseball at Wrigley Field back in 1982. At the time, the Chicago Cubs were the only team in Major League Baseball that did not play night games at home. Almost immediately, the Chicago City Counsel and Illinois General Assembly passed a bill that prohibited night games at Wrigley Field. However, in February 1988, Interim Mayor Eugene Sawyer passed an ordinance that permitted the Chicago Cubs to play 18 night games each season. This move came after the owners of the Chicago Cubs threatened to move the team to an even more suburban area of Chicago.

The first night game at Wrigley Field took place on August 8, 1988 (8-8-88) when the Chicago Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams were well out of the MLB playoff race at the time but the game still generated a ton of buzz nationally. That game was rained out and the first complete night game was played the following night vs. the New York Mets. 1989 was the first full season the Chicago Cubs hosted 18 night games and as a result, were rewarded the 1990 MLB All-Star Game. In 2004, 12 additional night games were added to the Chicago Cubs schedule.

Not everyone in the long history of the Chicago Cubs was a fan of day baseball. Notably, former Chicago Cubs Manager Lee Elia.

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood even once said that day baseball was the reason the Chicago Cubs were never successful. Many contested that with so many other Major League Baseball teams playing night games, the day games at Wrigley Field created more player fatigue and unhealthy sleep schedules. Those words were spoken, of course, before the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. Most Major League Baseball teams play an average of 55 night games per season. The Chicago Cubs are currently hosting an average of 43 night games each season.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Chicago Cubs are now lobbying for more night games at Wrigley Field. The current agreement allowed for the Chicago Cubs to host X amount of day games followed by X amount of concerts at night (doubleheaders). Talk about pissing off the Wrigleyville neighborhood! The Chicago Cubs get to keep a large share of the revenue generated from outdoor concerts at Wrigley Field. Now it looks like they’re changing their minds and would like to play more night games instead. The current agreement is set to expire in six years and the Chicago Cubs will have a hard time amending it before then.


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