NATO? Cubs Fans Just Want Their Baseball

Steere Photo

Cubs fan Lloyd Steere drove in from Indiana for Friday's game. He said he hadn’t
heard about the NATO summit or the protesters. (Photos by Yifan Gong and Charlotte Chen)

NATO logoBy Yifan Gong and Charlotte Chen
The Red Line Project

Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012

There should be no politics attached to the baseball. But this week, Wrigley Field seems to be political.

On Friday, the start of NATO weekend in Chicago, baseball fans gathered at the Wrigley Field for the Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Sox. The three-game series overlaps with protests and the start of the NATO summit. Saturday night's game will include a visit from NATO dignitaries.

A pregame ceremony to salute NATO is scheduled for Saturday, which would be at the beginning of the game starting from 6:15 p.m. General John Allen, commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan, would throw out the first pitch Saturday.

As one of the city measures for the NATO summit, the road closure for the NATO summit would absolutely affect the people who want to watch the game.

Justin Voit, a South Side Cubs fan, said it’s difficult for him to travel along the South Shore because of the road restrictions and detours. And he thought the restrictions would also affect the city's tourism during NATO.

“There are a lot of traveler’s restrictions,” he said.

However, the traffic issues didn’t seem to affect the fans who traveled from other states.

“I haven't even heard or seen it, and I even drove up today, and the traffic was perfect,” said Lloyd Steere, who drove from Indiana for the game.

Jessica Ulrey also traveled from Indiana with her family for the Cubs-Sox game. She said she don’t know about NATO summit. Her family had taken the train into the city and then the Red Line to the game Friday morning.

Protests are a commonplace during the NATO summit, although most of those activities were expected to be downtown this weekend.

But the Chicago Police Department has confirmed that there would be a greater-than-normal security presence at Wrigley Field this weekend beause of the two-day NATO summit. The Cubs emailed an update to Wrigleyville residents on Thursday telling them of road closures, parking restrictions and additional security measures.

Some fans said Friday that they were afraid of the protesters.

“They (the protesters) can do what they want,” said Jen Buczkowski, a Cubs fan who was taking her friends for a tour. She said they would stay away from McCormick Place and areas where the protesters gather.

Cubs fan George Singh said he is a supporter of NATO, but he was sympathetic with people and the reasons they were protesting.

“I fully support the right of people to protest this and I also fully support the city and police allowing them to do that,” he said.

Justin Voit, a Cubs fan from South Side, said: “The question really is are they going be violent protesters or peaceful protesters. Our country based on freedom speech, so the peaceful protesters don't bother me at all.”

Jay Goeppner, a White Sox fan from South Side, also said he was at ease about the protesters.

“They very well have [the] right to protest," he said. "There’s ways of doing things and I hope they get their point across without affecting too people’s life. And there are peaceful protest that work more effective than violent one.”

Nunez Photo

Sandy Nunez, a Cubs fan from the South Side, said she hadn’t had any difficulties to get to the game.

Another Cubs fan, Sandy Nunez, thought that as long as the protesters didn't do anything violent, she was not worry about them, “but you know, they’re going to go wherever they want to go.” About the affection from NATO during her way here to the game, she said: “No, not yet, but I’m pretty sure it will.”

Just before the game of Friday, the boss of one of their supporting teams Cubs was just funding a $10 million political action committee to against the president?

But Ulrey didn’t care about anything besides the game.

 “We are just here for the Cubs,” she said

Added Goeppner, “It looks like we got a beautiful day for baseball.”

Return to NATO Summit Coverage G8/NATO Summits Preview Guide | Home page

Feedback: Contact the reporters via Twitter, leave a comment below and Like/Dislike this story. You also can submit a story idea orreport an error.