The Chicago Cubs are quite literally going all out on hosting concerts at Wrigley Field this year.
News that Super Bowl 51 halftime performer Lady Gaga will play the Friendly Confines on Aug. 25 means the team now has nine concert dates on the docket this summer, breaking last year’s record of seven.
It also means the team cannot add any more this season without giving up a night game in 2018 under terms of the city ordinance governing night games and events at the ballpark. And if they have to reschedule a postponed game this season as a night game, they’ll have to give up a night game next year, as well.
Under a restructured night game ordinance originally passed in 2013, the Cubs can schedule up to 35 night games or night events each season. The team can also book four major concerts inside the park that don’t count toward that total, but any more than that count toward the maximum.
The Cubs have scheduled 30 night games for the 2017 season, meaning the five extra concerts puts them at 35 night events for the year. That leaves the team no wiggle room for things like rain-outs, which this season can only be rescheduled as day games.
If they can’t get them rescheduled during the day, the team can go beyond the 35-game limit—but every night game or event beyond that number will cost them a slot for a night game or event next year.
Maxing out the team’s legal capacity to host concerts at Wrigley Field underscores how valuable such shows are to the franchise and why the team pushed for an expanded night game ordinance when it cut a deal with the city to fund its massive stadium renovation project without public financing.
Industry experts estimate that each show nets the team a sum approaching $1 million—money that team officials say helps improve their roster. That’s why the number of concerts held annually at the stadium has tripled over the past three years. Concerts are more valuable than night games, which is why the team is sacrificing night games to hold them.
It’s one of the ways the Ricketts family, which owns the team, has demonstrated a bigger appetite for squeezing revenue out of the ballpark than their Tribune Co. predecessors.
The amended night game ordinance marked the second time that the number of potential night games at the ballpark went up. A 2004 ordinance raised the limit from 18 night games to 30.
The 2013 ordinance raised the maximum to 43, which includes a limit of eight games that don’t count against the 35 maximum if Major League Baseball makes them night games for a national TV broadcast. Five such games are set for this season thus far.
In addition to Lady Gaga, Wrigley Field will host concerts this summer by Billy Joel, Green Day, Dead & Co.—they’re playing two nights—James Taylor & Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty and the Zac Brown Band.