Now that Wrigley Field will be open to full capacity this coming Friday, I wanted to address here something that’s been bothering me about the ballpark in 2021.
I rarely write articles of this nature, but attempts to persuade the Cubs to lift their ban on umbrellas at Wrigley Field have failed, so I’m going to use my platform here to lay out the case for permitting them on days when rain is forecast.
First, if you feel this topic does not affect you, apply to you or interest you, I would ask that you skip by this article.
Now, let’s look at some facts.
The Cubs are one of just two Major League Baseball teams that completely ban umbrellas in their ballparks, per information I was able to personally obtain. You’ll never guess who the other one is, and don’t skip down to later in the article to find out yet, I’ll identify that team after I’ve laid out various details.
All 30 MLB clubs post rules on their websites about umbrella use, whether allowed or not, and whether there are any conditions or rules for their use when permitted in the ballpark.
In an effort to confirm the website information, I called all 29 other teams. Well, I should say I attempted to call all 29 other teams — I failed to get through phone menus to speak to an actual person at the Pirates, Giants, Tigers, Royals and Cleveland. All of those teams do have umbrella information on their websites, though.
First, let me tell you what I found out from the eight teams that play in stadiums with roofs. Obviously, you don’t need an umbrella during home games for the Brewers, Mariners, Astros, Rays, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Rangers and, once they move back to Toronto, the Blue Jays. But, since it might be raining when you arrive at a game in some of those places, or leaving the park after the game is over, I wondered whether those teams allowed umbrellas into their parks.
All eight said “Yes.” The nice man who answered the phone in Houston told me that, in fact, umbrellas are the No. 1 item at their lost and found. I believe that, because I brought an umbrella to PNC Park for a 2018 game because of a forecast of rain. It didn’t rain, and I left the umbrella under my seat. Before leaving Pittsburgh the next day I went to their lost and found. They were very nice and let me look through a whole bunch of stuff, but my umbrella never made it there.
Anyway, the consensus from the 21 non-dome teams that allow umbrellas is pretty consistent. All of them said “small” or “collapsible” umbrellas only, no golf-size umbrellas. It’s true that I used to bring one that large to Wrigley — I do understand not permitting one that large. I could certainly live with that, having a small umbrella that’s no longer than 12 inches when folded up. Most compact umbrellas fit this description.
Further, in general a significant majority of MLB teams simply stated that putting an umbrella up was permitted as long as you didn’t interfere with the views of other fans. This, too, is a very reasonable request. This wouldn’t even matter if MLB teams weren’t so determined to play through moderate rainfall, as the Cubs did May 18 against the Nationals. I understand the need and desire to get the game in, especially (as was the case May 18) when it’s the team’s only visit to that city. Still, in most cases an umbrella can be held to protect the user from getting wet without interfering with other fans. The following teams — Giants, Pirates, Twins, Red Sox, Rockies, Cleveland — ask that umbrellas not be put up during play or in seating areas or both.
Oh, you’re still wondering about the team other than the Cubs that bans umbrellas. It’s the Dodgers, oddly enough — a team that has had 17 rainouts in the 60 seasons they’ve played at Dodger Stadium, an average of one about every 3½ years. It rarely rains during the baseball season in California, so the Dodgers don’t even have many games that are delayed, then play resumes. The last such game was six years ago:
That game was eventually completed — before that they hadn’t had a rain delay since 2008. Here’s an interesting history of Dodger Stadium rainouts by SB Nation’s Eric Stephen written in 2015. There haven’t been any rainouts at the Dodgers’ home park since then.
So why no umbrellas at Dodger Stadium? A very nice woman at Dodgers fan services told me that it’s because too many people were bringing umbrellas to shade from the sun there and it got to be too much for stadium operations to deal with. Because, as you can see below, most of Dodger Stadium has essentially NO shade at all (photo taken by me during the 2016 NLCS):
But, you know... it rains sometimes at Wrigley Field, and they play through it at times, and for those times, it would be nice to be able to unfurl a small umbrella to stay dry, of course being courteous to other fans.
“But Al,” you’re saying. “Can’t you wear a poncho?”
I could, I suppose, but honestly those are extremely uncomfortable and they don’t really keep you dry — your shoes get soaked and pants get wet. It’s not a fun way to watch a baseball game. Many people do choose ponchos, though, and so even before the Wrigley ban, the number of umbrellas used when it was raining was declining. This is an even better reason to allow the small number of us who still want to use them, to do so.
Did you know that you can bring an umbrella on an airplane? Yes, the TSA will allow that. Last time I checked, it had never rained in an airplane during a flight. But you can still bring one on board, for use at your destination.
I reached out to the Cubs for comment. Team spokesman Julian Green told me, “We are doing this for security purposes, to improve safety and security for our guests.” That’s certainly an excellent goal for any sports team or public event, but in my view, umbrellas don’t pose any safety or security threat. I should also note that Green said the Cubs Ballpark Operations department told him that the Rays and Diamondbacks ban umbrellas; that’s different from the information I got from calling those ballclubs myself.
So, given the fact that virtually every other ballpark does allow umbrellas, even those with roofs and the four others in California where it rarely rains during the baseball season, I ask — politely — for the Cubs to rescind the umbrella ban and adopt a similar policy to most other teams. That is: They should permit small, collapsible umbrellas and allow them to be unfurled when it’s raining, as long as they don’t get in the way of other fans’ views if play is in progress.
It would be an excellent, fan-friendly thing to do.
Umbrellas should be allowed at Wrigley Field when it’s raining as long as they don’t interfere with other fans...
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