The Wrigley Mystique

A good reminder that when the Ricketts start talking about renovating Wrigley Field, there is probably one or two right ways to do it and a thousand wrong ways:

When Sam Zell floated a plan for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to buy Wrigley Field in a transaction separate from the Cubs, the talk was that the grandstand would basically be stripped down to the girders, with new seating and luxury boxes installed. That ambitious plan carried a price tag of $650 million and would force the Cubs to play at least one season at U.S. Cellular Field . . .

. . . But what the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority is proposing threatens to wipe out the Wrigley Field mystique with a much more commercialized venue. First, the authority would sell naming rights. Second, the authority would install more advertising in the ballpark. Really, there are few places where you could put more advertising (though we would not be surprised if they had planned to remove some of the iconic ivy), and it’s not as though Wrigley is a sponsor-free zone as it is. The suites would be expanded, probably way out of proportion to the rest of the aggressively egalitarian ballpark. Finally, the authority would sell seat licenses to the 1,200 most desirable locations in the ballpark under a plan that’s already been rejected by Major League Baseball.

Luckily, it doesn’t sound like the Ricketts have any interest in such an aggressive overhaul of Wrigley Field. Or, if they do, they’ve not shared those plans with anyone else, including local elected officials.

There are obvious things to avoid in any renovation — see what they did to Soldier Field as an example — but there are probably a million different ways to screw things up. So while Cubs fans should welcome the Ricketts family and be encouraged about their professed love for Wrigley Field, any and all plans should be scrutinized and feet held to the fire in order to ensure that, in the process of upgrading the old place, the wonderful things about Wrigley remain wonderful.

(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)

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  1. YankeesfanLen said...

    Used to spend many a Friday afternoon (at 3PM) at Wrigley and certainly saw no need for improvement.  After all, they can’t put a parking garage over it (can they).  Wonder if they still have the guys who keep your (16 oz) Old Styles full after the first round with a $10 tip?

  2. Richard in Dallas said...

    I live in Dallas, but have road tripped to Wrigley a few times, once before the lights went up.  The last time I went, I took my then 9 year old son with me.  He has been to about a dozen Major League and half a dozen Minor League parks.  If you were to ask him today which his favorite was, he would say Wrigley.  No clutter, no advertising, no jumbotron, not even a mechanical scoreboard.  He liked it because you can WATCH THE GAME! 
    You can tear out some underused areas and add some seats if you want to without changing the feel of the place, but it needs to remain basically the same, and others should emulate it…..

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