My trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee was illuminating -- not for the baseball, but for my view of the giant HD video board the Brewers installed before the 2011 season. Take a close look at the photo at the top of this post (taken, incidentally, just moments before Anthony Rizzo crushed a home run not far below it). The board is listed at 5,940 square feet, the eighth-largest board in the major leagues, according to this chart published in the Tribune a week ago. (Other sources give the dimensions as 55 feet by 110 feet, which would be 6,050 square feet, but those numbers are close enough for the purposes of this article.)
That is, coincidentally, almost exactly the square footage that the Cubs are proposing for a video board behind left field at Wrigley Field. Now, I want you to look at this photo:
Please click on it to open a larger version in a new browser window or tab so you get the full effect.
You see what I'm getting at, I trust. Look at how the board completely dominates its surroundings -- and Miller Park is a much, much larger edifice than Wrigley Field is. Can you imagine how a board that size would dominate the Wrigley landscape? Beyond that, during night games it would completely change lighting patterns; at Miller Park and other newer stadiums that have boards this size (or even bigger) they have outfield lighting, reducing the light emission from any outfield video board.
When they put lights in Wrigley, they specifically did not put light towers in the outfield. My specific recollection is that they did this because they didn't want to ruin the "look" of Wrigley as you saw it from the main stands -- in other words, the bleachers, the outfield wall and the scoreboard still looked the same. The only change at the time was lights on the scoreboard itself, and later, the Toyota advertising sign was added; that's the likely location of a video board.
I've been consistent on this for a long time. I'm not against a video scoreboard at Wrigley Field, as long as the current board stays exactly where it is and continues its function as it has for more than 75 years. But 6,000 square feet is way, way, way too large. Perhaps the Cubs asked for that in their proposal, knowing it would have to be scaled down. Take a look at the chart of video screen sizes linked above; somewhere around 3,000 to 3,500 square feet would certainly accomplish the Cubs' objective (presumably, selling ads on the board) while not overwhelming the traditional Wrigley view.
Have another look at this board, and know that size would be the wrong thing for Wrigley Field. Bring in a video board -- absolutely. But make it smaller than the one at Miller Park.