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A Day In Wrigley Field History: February 13, 1965

The Chicago Bears and owner George Halas were not happy on this day.

Sue Skowronski

For decades, the lower box seats at Wrigley Field had been metal folding chairs.

For the 1965 season, the Cubs decided to do something about that, as reported by Cooper Rollow in the Tribune:

Good news for Cub fans may be tragic tidings for Bear season ticket holders who stand to lose choice box seats because of a Cub improvement program. 

The glum prospectus for Bear fans came in the form of an innocuous publicity release delivered to newspaper offices yesterday in which the Cubs announced plans to replace chairs with 3,253 new contour-molded plastic seats in the first 10 rows of the box seat section in Wrigley field this spring.

What's wrong with that? Nothing, from the perspective of Cub fans. But for Bear season ticket holders, the new installations carry a built-in disaster potential.

And why was that? Rollow explains further:

The Bears sell five season tickets for each space. The Cubs put only four customers in the same space. By fastening down the new seats, the Cubs will leave no room for an extra chair and some Bear season ticket holders are going to be squeezed out.

Bears owner George Halas wasn't happy at all with this situation, as William Barry Furlong wrote in this January 1966 Sports Illustrated article:

When P. K. Wrigley ordered new and wider chairs for the box seats in Wrigley Field—reducing the number of seats in every box from 10 to eight -— Halas put the older, narrower seats in storage, then hauled them out to be re-installed every year for the football season. Last year when the Cubs put in permanent box seats, thus cutting his revenue in the highest-price section, Halas was quite upset and did not sign his rental contract with Wrigley Field until after season-ticket applications had been mailed out—and ticket prices raised.

Incidentally, there's no discrepancy between the "five for four" and the "10 for eight" seating change indicated in the two different articles. The first refers to seating in half of each "box", denoted by railings; the second, to both sides of the "box." The railings were completely removed in the lower boxes when the permanent seating was installed, though they remained in the upper deck until the late 1970s -- you can see them in this 1975 photo.

Originally, the Bears thought they might lose as many as 700 seats -- that's nearly 25 percent of the 3,253 seats mentioned in the February Tribune article. A March 18, 1965 note in the Tribune stated that the Bears would lose only 200 seats and that Halas would be signing a three-year contract to continue to play in Wrigley Field.

As for those "chairs", the Cubs put them outside Wrigley Field for public sale after Tribune Co. bought the team in 1981. They cost $1 each. I'm just sorry I bought only one of them.

There's one more notable event that happened at Wrigley Field in 1965. Thus, that year will get a second post, coming up tomorrow.