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Chicago Nat. L. Ball Club v. Thompson





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Richard L. Curry, Judge, presiding.


The Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc., is a corporation which owns and operates the Chicago Cubs, the major league baseball team, and the Cubs' home ball park, Wrigley Field. On December 19, 1984, the corporation (the Cubs) filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook County seeking a declaratory judgment that a 1982 amendment to the Environmental Protection Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1025) and a Chicago city ordinance (Chicago Municipal Code sec. 104.1-14.1) violate the separation-of-powers constitutional provisions, the State and Federal assurances of due process and equal protection (U.S. Const., amend. XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 2), and the special-legislation clause of the Constitution of Illinois (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 13). The Cubs asked that the Governor of Illinois, James R. Thompson, be enjoined from enforcing the statutory amendment, which makes certain nighttime professional sporting events subject to the nighttime-noise-emission regulations of the Pollution Control Board, against Wrigley Field, and the city of Chicago from enforcing the ordinance, which prohibits night athletic contests and other amusements at certain stadia, against the Cubs' ball park. The Lake View Citizens Council (LVCC), a nonprofit corporation composed of individuals who reside and certain organizations which are active in the community surrounding Wrigley Field, was granted leave to intervene as a defendant in support of the statute and ordinance. On March 25, 1985, the circuit court, after argument on motions by the Cubs and by the LVCC for judgment on the pleadings, held the statute and ordinance to be reasonable exercises of the police power. The court granted the motion of defendant-intervenor LVCC and entered judgment for the Governor, the city of Chicago and the LVCC. We allowed motions of LVCC and the city for a direct appeal to this court under our Rule 302(b) (87 Ill.2d R. 302(b)).

The statute, which amends title VI, section 25, of the Enviromental Protection Act, provides:

"The [Pollution Control] Board shall, by regulations under this Section, categorize the types and sources of noise emissions that unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life, or with any lawful business, or activity, and shall prescribe for each such category the maximum permissible limits on such noise emissions. * * *

No Board standards for monitoring noise or regulations prescribing limitations on noise emissions shall apply to any organized amateur or professional sporting activity except as otherwise provided in this Section. Baseball, football or soccer sporting events played during nighttime hours, by professional athletes, in a city with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants, in a stadium at which such nighttime events were not played prior to July 1, 1982, shall be subject to nighttime noise emission regulations promulgated by the Illinois Pollution Control Board." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1025.

The provisions of the Chicago ordinance are:

"It shall be unlawful for any licensee or other person, firm, corporation or other legal entity to produce, present or permit any other person, firm, corporation, or other legal entity to produce or present any athletic contest, sport, game or any other amusement as defined in Chapter 104, if any part of such athletic contest, sport, game or any other amusement as defined in Chapter 104 takes place between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., and is presented in a stadium or playing field which is not totally enclosed and contains more than 15,000 seats where any such seats are located within 500 feet of 100 or more dwelling units." Chicago Municipal Code sec. 104.1-14.1.

The Cubs challenge the constitutionality of the statute, apparently considering that night baseball games at Wrigley Field would violate the nighttime-noise-emission regulations of the Pollution Control Board. Those regulations are codified in the Illinois Administrative Code. (35 Ill. Adm. Code sec. 901.) The parties, however, are agreed that the ordinance would have the effect of prohibiting night games at Wrigley Field. Wrigley Field is located on the north side of Chicago in the Lake View area. The park is bordered by Sheffield, Waveland, Seminary, Addison and Clark streets. It was built in 1914 and has served as the exclusive home playing field of the Chicago Cubs since 1926. It is an open-air ball park with a seating capacity of slightly over 37,000, and it is the only park in the major leagues that, because it does not have lights, does not have night games. In the 1984 season, the Cubs played 81 games at Wrigley Field.

The area surrounding Wrigley Field is predominately residential, with some light industry to the south and west of the ball park. Most of the buildings in the area are multi-unit dwellings, which gives Lake View a highly concentrated population. There are no expressways in close proximity to Wrigley Field to accommodate the influx of spectators on days when games are played at the field, and there are few off-street parking facilities in the area. In general, only the neighborhood streets are available for parking.

The Cubs first argue that the statute and ordinance violate the separation-of-powers principle and deprive the Cubs of their right to due process by "declaring as law the conclusive presumption that night baseball at Wrigley Field alone constitutes a private nuisance." The Cubs say that this determination should only be made by means of a civil suit where allegations of a private nuisance would be brought by an aggrieved party, and the Cubs given rights to discovery, cross-examination and an opportunity to defend.

It is clear that the legislature has broad discretion to determine not only what the public interest and welfare require, but to determine the measures needed to secure such interest. (People v. McCarty (1984), 86 Ill.2d 247, 253; Tometz v. Board of Education (1968), 39 Ill.2d 593, 600; Thillens, Inc. v. Morey (1957), 11 Ill.2d 579, 593.) Here the legislature amended section 25 of the Environmental Protection Act to establish guidelines for protecting the interests, including property interests, of residents who live near stadia from intolerable noise from nighttime sporting events. In Rockford Drop Forge Co. v. Pollution Control Board (1980), 79 Ill.2d 271, this court stated:

"The objectives stated in section 25 may reflect in general terms the same concerns as those which underlie the common law. The legislative purpose, however, was to vindicate those concerns through a comprehensive regulatory system. Such an approach might well be thought to require that noise be limited on the basis of an objective, quantitative standard, rather than by its qualitative impact upon a particular affected individual as would be done under the common law method." 79 Ill.2d 271, 280. See also Illinois Coal Operators Association v. Pollution Control Board (1974), 59 Ill.2d 305.

The city of Chicago as well has, under the home rule provisions, the constitutional authority to regulate, through the police power, for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare. (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, sec. 6(a).) Too, the city council has been given the specific statutory authority to ...

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