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Structual Frustration

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Much of the news surrounding the Cubs in July and August involved the bickering between Chicago's city hall and the Tribune company. It seems that concrete fell from the ole ballpark on three separate occasions, resulting in several inspections, and preventive nets being installed to protect fans.

During this melee, Mayor Daley and Cubs President Andy McPhail exchanged barbs through the press on several occasions. Because of the overt political shenanigans being played by both sides, thecubdom.com studiously avoided commenting on either the falling cement chunks, or the Mayor's vendetta against the best baseball team in town, which happens to be rivals with his favorite team. However, with cement largely out of the news now, I want to weigh in on some of the 'smoke-filled backroom' business that helped deflect attention from the team.

The reason I have decided to break my silence is that the Cubs are making headlines again because of their attempts to alter Wrigley Field.

  • Concrete falling both inside and outside of the stadium, combined with requests from City Hall to spruce up the outsides of the ballpark (while keeping the scoreboard and marquee intact) will almost certainly result in a major 'face-lift' for Wrigley Field during the offseason.
  • The Cubs are still trying to expand the bleachers. Although they are no longer looking for the 2,600 seats they initially wanted, the Cubs are still hoping for 1,980 additional bleacher seats. City Hall responded today by suggesting the Cubs ensure that 70% of the grandstand seats be able to see the third floor of the apartment buildings across the street (read: expanding the bleachers shouldn't block rooftop views). The Cubs, who have hired HOK (the best sports architecture firm out there) indicate that the 70% metric will force the team well below the 1,980 level.
  • Thomas Tunney, Alderman for the 44th Ward in Chicago (Alderman for the Cubs' Ward), wants the Cubs to commit to rebuilding the entire bleacher section if they are given permission to add the extra bleacher seats.
  • The Cubs are pushing hard to get permission from the landmarking commission to hang an electronic sign behind homeplate to show rotating advertisements, like in most other ballparks. However, the brick wall behind homeplate was one of the historic features specifically protected by the landmarking process. The Cubs claim they can generate more revenue from the rotating advertisements than the White Sox earned by renaming Comiskey park to U.S. Cellular park.

Most of these facts came from this Sun-Times article by Fran Spielman.

Although I oppose most changes to Wrigley on principle, I was really disappointed when I heard that the Cubs were pushing to add the electronic 'rotating ad' board behind the plate. Like most Cubs fans, I am enamored by the 'pristine' character of Wrigley Field. For instance, having an outfielder nearly put their eye out catching a ball against the ivy is more intriguing than the 'Hit it Here' and Pepsi will give some fan a million dollars style billboards all around baseball. However, if the Cubs are being honest when they estimate an additional $3-$5 million in revenues from the rotating ads, then I have no choice to support it.

Yes, I like Wrigley Field, but I like Cub wins even more... and with Jim Hendry and Andy McPhail running things, more revenue means a higher payroll, which translates into more wins.

Besides, if the Cubs could get the same amount of money as the Sox, who now play in the Cell, while ridding themselves of the nasty green board currently behind the plate for national games, I'm all in favor of it. Please, just don't make it Tribune Field, or Verizon Stadium...

Some suggestions: The Cubs should look into a way to make the sign look like it is a part of the brick. The advertising would be a lot more palatable if it were built into the brick, rather than a huge piece of black plastic and metal, as in most parks. Also, if the Cubs wanted, they could then design a faux-brick panel to place in front of the ad-board when it is not in use, giving the illusion that the advertisement was not present.

Trust me, losing isn't lovable

The Cubs lost 7-6 in 12 innings... the game was ugly, the bullpen imploded, and I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Posted by Byron at September 8, 2004 5:29 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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