Wrigley: Shrine, dump, or false dichotomy?

This morning I linked Ozzie Guillen’s colorful take on Wrigley Field. Last week Deadspin did its Deadspiny thing with the place. Of course, neither Ozzie nor Deadspin can be said to represent mainstream sentiment (the latter hates everything; the former lives for chaos), so this morning Stu Courtney of the Sun-Times takes up the subject. After noting the pros and cons (its a hard place to work but a magical place to play; its a good place to watch a ballgame, but when you have to use the word “urine” to describe the ambiance, something is amiss) he asks the fans’ opinion:

What’s your take on Wrigley: shrine or dump? Is it an enjoyable place to watch a game? Would you like to see it modernized with a Jumbotron, an automated scoreboard and more family-friendly features that would make it easier to bring the kids? How would you rate it compared to other big-league ballparks, such as the Cell?

Taking everything into consideration, what’s your vote on Wrigley Field: thumbs up or thumbs down?

OK, maybe Courtney is trying to stir up crap too, because no one in their right mind wants a Jumbotron, dot races, a plethora of kids’ promotions, and all of that jazz, do they?

How about this: a structural rehab, whatever can be done to expand clubhouses and make them more comfortable, and a minimalist, conservative approach to any expansions or upgrades a la what has happened to Fenway Park over the past handful of years. If it means that the Cubs play on the south side, in Milwaukee or, hell, in Grant Park for a year, fine, but the goal should obviously be to fix what’s broken, not “modernize” it in the aspirational sense of the term.

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  1. Harry Pavlidis said...

    It’s called the Triangle Building, and if they just go ahead and build the dang thing it would makes things better.

    I, for one, find the troughs to be a marvel of efficiency, and a trial-by-fire cure for stage fright.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I grew up using Tiger Stadium troughs.  I think we would be well on our way towards world peace if everyone was forced to use them.

    Every man anyway.

  3. MooseinOhio said...

    Maybe you get the taxpayers to fund the overpriced land purhcase and construction of the New Wrigley field right next to the old Wrigley field, charge outrageous season ticket prices that exclude lifelong fans, transform the ballpark into it opposite (HR park to pitcher park), pay homage to the goat and maybe turn the fate of the Cubs around while your at it.

  4. Fish said...

    I’ve only been once, but while I loved the atmosphere, I was struck by the lack of general information.  I remember having a hard time finding any basic “advanced” stats that most parks have now like pitch counts, on-base percentage, etc.  At least Jeff Francouer probably loves it there.

  5. Fremont said...

    My vote is shrine. Wrigley sounds like paradise. But then again, anything sounds like paradise compared to the Oakland Coliseum, with hashmarks on the infield, a giant monolith in the outfield, a vomit stained concourse, a green baggie covering the entire upper-deck (except for the one all-you-can-stuff-yourself-with-our-lousy hotdogs section). In fact, the troughs are the best feature. On second thought, maybe the best feature is that you don’t have to deal with crowds.

  6. Joe said...

    The atmoshere in the ball park is fine. As long as you’re not behind a pole. After that forget it. No parking. Extremely long wait for bathrooms. You will miss parts of the game if you use the facilities. Terrible food. The smell of stale beer and urine permeates the stadium as much as the losing tradition does. All this for huge marked up ticket prices. Stub hub was probably invented by a cub fan.

  7. Richard in Dallas said...

    Craig’s suggestion for Wrigley’s facelift is spot-on.  I grew up a Mets fan in NJ, went to college in Dayton, going to see the just faded Reds in the late 70s, spent a few years doing the Torre led Braves, and have been in Dallas for almost 20 years now.  in 2002, I took my then 9 year old son to the Friendly Confines, gutted up for some nice seats, and introduced him to what he still says is his favorite ballpark (he’s been to 11).  It was the only one with a trough, the only one without a jumbotron, the only one where the rest room smelled better than the concourse (they had air fresheners in there), the only one where we had to park far away and still worry about our car being towed, and the only one where the fans were absolutely NUTS about their team that hadn’t won a WS in their lifetime.  It didn’t hurt that we got a two-for-one special that day (17 innings against the Fish), and a July afternoon that was cool enough for me to have to buy the boy a Sosa sweatshirt).  If it’s there, and doesn’t work, fix it.  If it’s not, leave it alone.  It’s perfect just the way it is…..

  8. Eddo said...

    ”…charge outrageous season ticket prices that exclude lifelong fans…”

    I know you’re going after New Yankee Stadium with this comment, but Wrigley actually was there first.  I’m a White Sox fan living in Chicago, but I know a good deal of true Cub fans (not tourists) who get to go to maybe one or two games at Wrigley each year because ticket prices have been driven up by the tourist appeal of the park.

  9. J. McCann said...

    First of all let me say I have never been there, but it sure looks pretty on TV.

    That said, I have the answer and anyone that disagrees with me is wrong:

    They need to leave the OF wall, ivy, CF scoreboard and bleachers compeletely alone.  But all of foul territory from foulpole to foulpole needs to be torn down and completely modernized with seats built for fatasses, corporate luxury boxes, first class bathrooms, promenade, restaurant and all of that.

  10. Richard in Dallas said...

    Oh, yeah, and Jim Belushi sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”…….

    As a singer, he sucked, but it was GREAT!!!

    Who need modern amenities?!?

  11. Eddo said...

    J. McCann:
    I agree with you, though I’d also renovate the bleachers.  They are a terrible place. (Do you know there’s no assigned seats in the bleachers? So if you have bleacher tickets, but aren’t there early enough, you won’t have a place to sit due to people taking up more than what constituted a person’s width 80+ years ago.)

    Also, I’d keep the manual scoreboard, but add new, modern scoreboards elsewhere in the park.

  12. Steve said...

    Being from the Boston area I have to do my part to make everything about the Red Sox.

    If it is anything like Fenway, its a dump.  I will only go to Fenway if it is absurdly cheap ($5) or free. 

    I think both teams need to create “small” land fills in their respective bodies of water and build new stadiums.  I think it would be nice if after 100 years of Fenway they move into a new building.

  13. John said...

    Wrigley is a shrine but as Craig suggested there are elements that could use a facelift.  Adding a jumbotron is not one of them, although I was shocked to see how many people how many season ticket holders wanted one during a luncheon held last season with the Cubs front office.

    To me the parking issue has always been overrated   First, there is public transporation about 30 feet outside the park.  I’ve been going to Cubs games for nearly 30 years and have never had a problem taking the red line to or from the game.  Secondly what people seem to ignore is that the neighborhood around Wrigley that is so popular with so many people exists largely because there aren’t any parking lots.  People are forced to park a few blocks away or take the train in and that in turn forces them to walk through the neighborhood where they are likely to spend a couple bucks on a hot dog or beer before or after the game.  If Wrigley had large parking lots the experience would be completely different and not for the better.

  14. John said...

    Why not build a second ballpark and split the home games?  Maybe a modern domed park for April, May and October (wishful thinking) games and use Wrigley for only half of the games.  There will always be a hard-core group that will never let the park be demolished, and that’s a good thing.  Build the new park in the N or NW suburbs.

  15. RichardInDallas said...

    Steve – I have been to both, and compared to Wrigley, Fenway is a TOILET!  Although Fenway has much more a sense of history for me (Babe Ruth PITCHED there!), Wrigley is a much more thoroughly enoyable experience.  Neiher, however, should see a wrecking ball, and neither should be changed except for improved functionality.

  16. Seattle Zen said...

    What I remember most about my one game at Wrigley was watching a batter foul a ball back… over the press box and OUT of the stadium. That is a small ballpark.

    Think about that the next time you go to your favorite MLB stadium.

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