Greetings Bleed Cubbie Blue readers, I have been thinking about the Wrigley renovation ideas and thought I’d offer my $.02 and see what you think.
I’ve been reading about the plans to renovate Wrigley Field and given some of the proposals thus far, my simple solution is: Leave Wrigley Field as it is.
At least until someone comes up with better funding ideas.
As is well known, the mayor refuses to negotiate with the Cubs for taxpayer funding of renovation. So the Cubs have brainstormed some ideas to fund what might be some welcome changes to Wrigley.
The Cubs’ main idea is billboards in the outfield; the rooftop owners, obviously opposed to that, have offered to allow advertising on their buildings.
My own thoughts: both ideas rot, enough that neither should be implemented—at least not to add more concourse space to a ballpark that drew 3 million to watch a 100-loss club last season.
Could Wrigley Field be improved? Sure. I would love to see an upper concourse and a parking garage added, maybe the closing off of Sheffield Avenue for games like the Red Sox have done with Yawkey Way. Is that worth gaudy advertising in the outfield, blocking the rooftops? No.
Imagine the Cubs’ plan first…a slew of billboards hawking General Motors, CVS and Exxon. Even if the advertising was for popular local products like Vienna Beef or Old Style, it would give Wrigley Field a minor league feel…and given the team’s record of late, the Cubs don’t need any associations to minor league baseball. (Sorry Cubs fans, I don’t mean that in a hurtful way. Just saying.)
On top of that, signage in the outfield would of course end the prominence of the Wrigleyville rooftops. The Cubs apparently wouldn’t mind this, and maybe rightly so, but I do. It’s just my opinion, but people sitting in grandstands on the roofs of houses across the street is part of what makes Wrigley special. The rooftops are a major element of what connects Wrigley to the neighborhood, and the mere fact that the neighborhood is called Wrigleyville is a testament to how the whole area comes alive on game day. No other ballpark in baseball has that connection to its surroundings, not even Fenway.
The rooftop owners’ proposal isn’t much better; with the possibilities of the Nike swoosh on one of the buildings, for example. The Cubs, for now, have dismissed it on “it won’t be prominent enough on television” grounds. For different reasons, I’m glad for that.
I know the rooftops are businesses, I truly do get that, but they are also still homes in a sense; even if no one lived there it certainly looks like people do. It just seems crass, even in this environment, to put advertising on one’s home like this.
I’ve actually read about people selling advertising on their homes in exchange for the advertising company to pay their mortgage while the ad is there; even in hard times I can’t imagine allowing my home to be used that way. Talk about telling the world you can be bought. Again, I understand the type of environment the rooftops are, I’m just speaking to how I think it would look.
I am a Philadelphia-area baseball fan who dearly loves Wrigley. One of the things I love about it is the purity of it…that the hand-operated scoreboard and the ivy and even people sitting on rooftops (with or without grandstands) is the way people have attended ballgames for a century. There is some comfort in that in an ever-changing world.
Yes, it would be nice to see some upgrades to the Friendly Confines. But not at the possible expense of the atmosphere of pure baseball. The Red Sox were able to greatly improve Fenway Park without touching any of its charm; to do the same with Wrigley the Cubs will have to tread very lightly. As a big fan of Wrigley, I hope they can find an agreeable alternative to both of these ideas.
If they can’t, I’d be cool with leaving Wrigley Field be for now.