I suppose most people have at least one neighbor that they just don’t particularly care for all that much. Maybe it’s someone with an incessantly barking dog or perhaps it’s that neighbor with a stack of rotting plywood leaning up against their garage that they refuse to throw out. The Chicago Cubs and the neighboring rooftop owners seem to have such a relationship. They get along fine for a few years at a time, then things erupt into a squabble and harsh words are exchanged.
Things are heating up between the neighbors in Wrigleyville, as the Cubs are intent on refurbishing the antiquated Wrigley Field stadium. The Ricketts family has tried in vain to obtain funds from the city of Chicago to finance the effort, but to date the requests have fallen mostly on deaf ears. Mayor Emanuel has not been very eager to fund the renovation of the old ball yard:
Cubs: Can we have $200 million to renovate the stadium?
Cubs: Can we have $100 million?
Cubs: Can we have $50 million??
Cubs: What CAN we have?
Emanuel: Have a nice day.
So now the Ricketts kids are willing to put up $300 million of their dad’s money in order to spruce up Wrigley. In order to do so, they need to generate some funds which will, I assume, be used to pay back papa. In order to do so, the Cubs want to erect billboards behind the bleacher sections which will generate the required advertising revenue. The problem is the views from the surrounding rooftops will be blocked, thereby taking away the key selling point to the party events that are offered up there on game days.
I’m really not sure what all of the fuss is about here, however. I’ve attended a few rooftop parties over the years and although it’s a fun time up there, I honestly don’t recall too many people paying very much attention to the game. One time that I was up there, there was a sizeable group huddled around the big screen TV watching a Bulls playoff game…while the Cubs game was being played.
I’ve been a Cubs fan since 1969, which just so happened to coincide with my heart being broken for the first time. The Cubs have never failed to break my heart every ten years or so. 1984 was a crushing blow as were other playoff years to follow. In 2003 (Where’s Bartman?) was the topper. Through it all, the one constant was Wrigley Field. It really hasn’t changed much since the first time I set foot in the stadium so many years ago. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.
After visiting some of the newer, “retro look” ball parks around the country over the past few years; it’s evident that Wrigley Field is in desperate need of renovation, if not replacement. Any man or boy who has endured the trough experience in the men's restroom would most likely agree. I think it might be time to raze the old stadium and just build something nice. Now most traditionalists would cry foul to this idea, but hear me out. I’d suggest tearing down everything except bleachers, the brick outfield wall and the ivy that covers it. Everything else could be replaced with something new, clean and trough-free.
What about the scoreboard? Yep…that needs to go to. Replacing the scoreboard is what could possibly fund much of this renovation and end the squabble with the neighbors. In the age of digital imagery, anything is possible. Replacing the scoreboard with a “look alike” version capable of replicating the look and feel of the existing version is certainly possible. The only difference would be the image could be transformed from the current view to one of a series of advertisements at certain intervals that would provide the Cubs with the revenues that they need. It would also provide a nice big screen for which to watch replays. The look and feel of the scoreboard would remain pretty much the same, as would the site lines for those looking in and out of the ball park.
Now that this problem has been solved, let’s move on to the product that actually performs on the field. Oh never mind…..that’s a problem that would take far longer to figure out.