SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- The self-imposed deadline for the Chicago Cubs to make a deal with the city of Chicago and 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney is today, Opening Day of the 2013 season.
Negotiations have been going on for some time, detailed nearly every day last week right here at BCB with new revelations about the rooftops, outlandish proposals for moves of the team outside of the city of Chicago, and Jumbotrons in the outfield.
Back in January, the Heckler speculated about a possible Wrigley roof, but a structure like that wouldn't work on the open outfield configuration of Wrigley Field.
Now, with the deadline upon us, BCB has learned details of the Cubs' real master plan. It's based, as seemingly everything is these days at the corner of Clark and Addison, on something the Boston Red Sox have been offered. One year ago, a Boston-area architect with a degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposed a retrofitted roof for Fenway Park that would be based on the "bubble wrap principle":
The shape of Fenway Park is unsymmetrical, and because of its dimensions, a physical structure for a roof on the park would not be economical. Therefore, we propose a series of 4O-foot wide recycled, high-strength transparent bubble strips, just like packaging wrap, supported by the help of cable wires. There would be multiple bubbles in each strip, and each bubble would be filled with helium. The strips would be placed over the ballpark with cables inserted on both sides and resting on pulleys. The pulleys would be attached to pylons on each end. The plastic roof could be retracted with the help of pulleys after the helium gas is sucked out of the bubbles. Each strip would be attached to pylons with the upper strip overlapping the lower, leaving a gap for air to flow and water to drain. In order to inflate the bubbles, stems will be connected with a clear plastic tube connected to a helium tank. All pylons will be held in place with lateral supports.
The Cubs have brought over Theo Epstein from the Red Sox to lead their baseball operation into the future, so it's no surprise that they have decided to go with this bubble-wrap roof, first proposed in Boston, as a solution to virtually every issue they have. Construction of this roof could be completed by the start of the 2014 season.
As you can see in the illustration above, the roof would not only keep out rain, but the left-field side would completely block the view from all but one of those pesky rooftops. The Cubs will install a 100-foot wide Jumbotron, also pictured in this illustration, to block the remaining rooftop views. The photo above shows a Jumbotron on only the left-field side (where the Toyota sign currently resides), but when the construction is complete, Wrigley would have dual Jumbotrons, one on the Waveland side, one on the Sheffield side, that could come in and out along with the bubble-wrap roof as needed (you may have to mouse over the image to begin the animation):
Here's what the roof would look like from the bleachers:
The Cubs are considering adding a scoreboard to that view as well, just in case anyone tries to horn in on the view of the game from Addison Street or Clark Street:
All of the other features of Wrigley Field that we now know and love would be preserved; rain and wind would be kept out of the ballpark by translucent panels that would drop down and cover the areas shown by the upright supports in the illustration. Those would let light in, but they would have the frosted window look, to provide the usual vista for fans inside, while eliminating the rooftop views.
Since the roof would be deployed only during windy, rainy and cold weather, the rooftops would still have their (mostly) unimpeded view on nice days, which as we know in Chicago, are limited to a handful of weeks in July. And, since none of the pieces involved would be permanent structures blocking rooftop views, the Cubs would be in compliance with the 2004 contract signed with the rooftop owners.
It's a win-win. The Cubs will no longer have to worry about rain delays or postponements, and ticket-buyers would be assured of being more comfortable when the howling northeast wind blows off the lake, which happens for most of the first two months of the season. Finally, since the roof would be constructed of recycled materials, it would be in keeping with the Cubs' "Real Fans Recycle" program, in effect at Wrigley since 2010.
This exciting news, coming along on Opening Day, will assure the Cubs of added revenue and player and fan comfort. But the thing you must remember most about this exclusive disclosure is today's date.