Cubs In Rosemont? Destruction of Wrigley Field Scoreboard… My Thoughts

wrigley field renovations

I will be the first to admit that my love for the sport of professional Baseball has dropped off over the last few years, as well as my love for our beloved (shitty) Chicago Cubs. I still love playing the game, and even though I can’t actually play baseball anymore I play in multiple softball leagues over the summer. I have been to more than half of the MLB stadiums in the country and even though I haven’t been to a game in a while, I still love going. My love of the game itself hasn’t changed over the years, but I have started to change my mind in regards to the history and nostalgia surrounding some of the stadiums.

If you would have asked me five years ago if I thought updating Wrigley Field was a good idea, I definitely would have went on a rant about how the stadium is a landmark full of history and tradition and they shouldn’t be allowed to change it. But now that the same questions are being brought up in public conversation, and having been a little more removed from the game over the last couple years, my answer would be much different.

A little background before I get into my thoughts here. The Ricketts family, who own the Cubs, are trying to do some $300 million in renovations to the stadium, but are being shot down by the city of Chicago. Here are just a few of the things they’re trying to do.

Among the proposed improvements the Cubs revealed are larger concourses, additional restaurants, more bathroom and concession areas, expanded suites and amenities for the players, including a larger home clubhouse, batting cages and additional training facilities. A new roof would replace the wooden roof, new seats would be installed and the façade would return to its 1930s-era luster.

source: Chicago Tribune

The issue is, that since the stadium has landmark status, all renovation plans and changes have to go through the city and get approval. And in order to pay for some of the renovations the Ricketts family are asking for the ability to put up some more signage with acrylic signs in the outfield. Every other stadium in the country has advertisements along the outfield walls except for Wrigley Field. Sure, they have a few small ads on the doors going under the bleachers, but due to the ivy on the outfield wall, the only place for ads would be over the bleachers. They do have one Toyota sign in the outfield now, but won’t be allowed to add more until possibly 2014. I could have a few things wrong here, but that’s what I’ve gathered through some of these articles. They are also asking for a few more night games a season and a couple Saturday night games, which the Cubs currently don’t have.

Since Chicago has been putting so many restrictions on Wrigley Field, the mayor of Rosemont Illinois has offered to allow the Cubs to build a new stadium in Rosemont on a huge plot of land that would be able to accomodate everything they could want. It’s an interesting offer, but I don’t think the Cubs would ever move out of the city. It would kill too much of their revenue, and I’m pretty sure the city itself wouldn’t let the Cubs leave… but who knows.

Now for how I feel about all of this. First lets discuss my thoughts on the Rosemont offer… I honestly don’t think it would ever happen, so I’m not really worried, but I would not be too happy if they did move. I enjoy the experience of taking the ‘L’ down to Wrigleyville, going to the bars in the area and then going to the game. I know that the Wrigleyville area can be pretty douchey and the crowds are sometimes pretty obnoxious, but with the Cubs playing the way they are these days, I think they’d have a hard time selling tickets if they moved out to Rosemont. Now, in the unlikely case that they did move, as long as they some how made the ‘L’ go near the stadium, then I wouldn’t be too upset, but I don’t know the logistics behind all that.

Since the Rosemont idea probably won’t come to fruition, lets talk about the renovation of Wrigley Field. As I said above, had this been 5 years ago I would have had a totally different tone when talking about this. I would have told you how there’s no way they can change anything about the field as it has so much history and tradition that would be totally lost with any sort of renovation. Guess what, they ripped down old Yankee Stadium, which probably has more tradition and nostalgia than any other stadium in baseball, and the world didn’t end. I was fortunate enough to check out a game at Old Yankee Stadium during the last year it was there, which was definitely cool, but it’s still just an old stadium that doesn’t fit with todays modern luxuries. And that’s exactly how I feel about Wrigley Field these days. Now, I’m still a little torn on the whole idea of tearing it down and starting over, but as for renovating the stadium… I’m all for it. Please give us nicer bathrooms that aren’t the most disgusting things on the planet. Please give us better food and shops on the inside. Please give us a nice roof that doesn’t drop concrete on people’s heads while they are watching the game. Please do something. If all we have to deal with is a few signs in the outfield, I’m totally fine with it.

There are still a couple things I’m a little iffy about if they changed, but I could probably get over it. The first being the scoreboard. Fenway and Wrigley are the only two stadiums left with a manual scoreboard in the outfield and Wrigley’s, more than Fenway’s, is extremely iconic. There are talks about moving the scoreboard to right or left field to make way for a large digital screen in center field, but I think that would just look ridiculous. However, I wouldn’t mind having a digital screen somewhere for replays and things of that nature. The other thing is the facade of the stadium itself. Whenever I picture redoing the facade I just think of Soldier Field and the renovations they did there. They kept the iconic pillars in front, but added a more modern feel to the top and sides of the rest of the stadium… and it looks weird. I just wouldn’t want the same thing for Wrigley. That and the ivy in the outfield.

So personally I welcome any changes to Wrigley that are going to make games more enjoyable and the whole experience of going to a Cubs game more enjoyable. I actually think that they should turn the area around the stadium into some sort of area like Yawkey Way surrounding Fenway. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I don’t think these changes would be all that bad, and considering how terrible the Cubs have been the last few years, any change at this point is welcome.

So what do you think of the changes proposed for Wrigley Field? Would you still go to games if they moved to Rosemont?