Cubs Propose Huge Jumbotron At Wrigley

Al Yellon

Yes, "huge Jumbotron" is a bit redundant. But the Cubs have now proposed such a thing, which would be three times the size of the park's current scoreboard.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Here we go again. With just three days to go before the Cubs' self-imposed April 1 deadline for a deal with the city of Chicago on Wrigley renovations (and I have to believe that's a somewhat soft deadline), there's a Tribune story about what might be holding things up:

A key sticking point in the negotiations over the rehab of Wrigley Field is whether to allow the Cubs to erect a giant video screen within the Friendly Confines, with the team seeking a 6,OOO-square-foot display that would be about triple the size of the iconic center-field scoreboard, sources say.

According to the sources, who are familiar with detailed proposals being discussed during the now-daily talks, the debate is focused more on the size and placement of a Jumbotron-like screen than on whether it would be allowed at all — with the Ricketts family that owns the Cubs rejecting anything smaller than 6,OOO square feet.

"We are exploring adding a video board at Wrigley Field as part of opportunities to increase revenues for the baseball club," said Cubs spokesman Julian Green. "One of the points at issue is the size."

And, of course, such a board would block views from many of the rooftops. How could it not? 6,000 square feet -- say, 60 times 100 feet, which would be about the right ratio for such a board -- would be as wide as four regulation-size city lots, which means anywhere from two to four buildings would have their views at least partly restricted.

You know how I feel about that. "Tough." is my reply. Such a board would, according to the article, not even be close to the size of some in baseball, though it wouldn't be that much smaller -- note the sizes of some existing boards that I posted here two years ago. The Tribune article indicates that the Mariners, for example, have a board nearly twice the Cubs' proposed board size -- 11,425 square feet. Obviously, there's no place for a board that size in or near Wrigley Field.

6,000 square feet? I'd have to see where and how they propose to do this. I've gone on record many times here saying I'm not opposed to a video board at Wrigley. The LED board that's been placed below the new right-field party patio blends in well with Wrigley, but a 6,000-square-foot board would be an entirely different proposal. Still, if done right, it could enhance the ballpark without destroying what makes Wrigley what it is. Obviously, it's being proposed to help the Cubs generate revenue, as well. I'm surprised the Cubs haven't considered a ribbon board on the upper-deck facade, something they wouldn't have to run through any landmark commission.

There's one more news item worth mentioning today, via David Kaplan at CSN Chicago: the mayor of Rosemont says he wants to meet with Tom Ricketts as early as Tuesday (WARNING! Loud ad plays without permission) if the Monday deadline passes without a deal. The word "hubris" comes to mind; again, I think that "deadline" can be stretched a few days without any real harm to the Cubs, since the team and the city really want to get a deal done.

The CSN link also contains letters from the Lake View Citizens Council to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney complaining about proposed game time changes and the addition of more night games, and asking for financial compensation from the Cubs for any "inconveniences" caused.

Do these people not understand the economic engine that is the Chicago Cubs? And that the neighborhood, both residents and businesses, benefit from that? I tend to agree with the position that games starting at 3:05 aren't useful, either to the players or the community, but 10-12 more night games? We're talking about 10-12 dates out of 365.

I don't believe the Cubs should move; I've laid out the reasons for that many times here. But this is 2013, not 1980. This August will mark the 25th anniversary of the first night game at Wrigley Field. The neighborhood and night games coexist pretty well right now; a few more games under the lights isn't going to significantly change anything.

It's time for all these parties to stop standing in the corner in a huff, uncross their arms, and get a deal done. I'm writing about this because it's news. The next time I write about this topic, I'd like the headline to be: "Cubs, City Make Deal On Wrigley Renovations".

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