I like taking my family to Wrigley Field to watch a ball game. It’s pretty convenient, living in the city proper, to get to the park despite living on the South Side. The field and the ivy are nice to look at and my son enjoys the manual scoreboard. We wouldn’t change the iconic markers of the park, like the marquee on Clark and Addison, the scoreboard, the field dimensions and the ivy. However, I’m guessing lots of Cubs fans could do with a few improvements. So what might we do to make the Wrigley experience better for now and for future generations?
Of course a few of these things are probably impractical or will ruffle people’s feathers. I actually think I enjoy watching the game at home more. For one, I can control the volume. For another, I get replays of close plays without having to crane my neck to look at the teeny TVs hanging from the rafters. And finally, I don’t have to deal with other fans. I wonder if that makes me antisocial. Anyway, another Top Ten List…
Ten Things Rice Would Do To Make Wrigley More Rice-Friendly
ZOMFG JUMBOTRON. I’d bet it’d be better-looking and much more practical than that stupid Toyota sign though. And then I can keep my attention towards the field instead of having to hunt down a microscopic hanging TV for a highlight. They probably won’t show close/controversial plays but there’s no reason why they wouldn’t replay a home run or a great defensive play.
2. Remove all obstructed views
No offense to the fellow bloggers. But these:
…are annoying. How to fix? Well…
3. Figure out what works elsewhere and implement it
Here we see how a modern park (one inspired by old-tyme-y parks like Wrigley) can cram in a bunch of seats, upper decks etc and still give each fan an unobstructed view. Of course, this would assume that the Ricketts family goes balls out and rips Wrigley to the ground and rebuild the upper decks differently. Not exactly easy.
It’s a bit more nosebleed but at least you won’t be in the nosebleeds AND have a big honkin’ pole in the way.
4. Better seats with more leg-room
Now I’m not the biggest person in the world, but when I sit down and my knees are almost touching the seat in front of me, it’s a sign that leg room needs to be increased at least marginally. All the seats in the park are basically the same model, and every bench in the bleachers section is the same as well (though what did you really expect from the bleachers anyway?). In certain ballparks like New Yankee Stadium, seats closer to the dugouts and in private boxes are cushioned, but I’m not really asking for that. I’m just asking for a little extra arm space and some room for my legs to spread out without riding the shoulders of the guy in front of me. I’m sure in-front-of-me-guy would appreciate that too. I will readily admit, however, that this is a First World Problem and I can survive with a cramped seat as long as other aspects of the park are improved.
5. Bathrooms that aren’t gross
I shudder to think of what the ladies have to deal with if us men already have such cramped and clogged restrooms. My wife tells me that public restrooms for women are usually nastier than the men’s, and I’ll have to take her word for it. Anyways…the lines are always congested, the bathrooms are nasty (but what do you expect when there are like 20000 men trying to do their business with no practical way to clean them during the “rush” periods) and the troughs are annoying. I think the Cubs have tried to look at how to improve traffic through the restrooms but whatever they did isn’t really working. I do like that they’ve installed individual urinals now (less splashback if you know what I mean) and I wonder how feasible it is to provide family restrooms, or kid-friendlier stalls for when the kid has to go Number Two.
6. Better choices of refreshments
I did enjoy the $15 nacho helmet (great idea) but there just isn’t a lot of variety in Wrigley Field. I also don’t know why people keep plopping down $8 for a lukewarm cup of crappy beer. If they sold something like Goose Island or anything less crappy I’d be happy to splurge a bit on booze. Set up a deli for sandwiches or even offer a monster hot dog with all the works. This mostly wouldn’t apply to me because I bring in outside food or eat before I go into the park, but wouldn’t you want more choices?
7. Wider concourses
Wrigley Field seemed to have been built when people were the size of Smurfs. The innards of the stadium are so claustrophobic that it’s difficult to navigate without becoming intimate with at least a dozen other fans. In contrast, a lot of modern ballparks give you tons of space to move around, even when the place is packed. Hell, even the one time I was at the Cell I could actually claim personal space for myself, though that’s probably because nobody goes to Sox games (I kid, I kid). This is one of the more difficult things to change as Wrigley’s existing footprint is confined by the four streets surrounding it.
8. A bridge to the El
This is one of those First World Problem things again but it might be nice, since the Addison station is right there, to provide a couple of bridges from the station, one that leads to the bowl and one to the bleachers. Just another option to avoid the pre-game crowd and try to get to the public transit as quickly as possible after a game. The station is so close to the park that it really doesn’t matter, but something like what BART does with the Oakland Coliseum could be feasible. I mean, the Ricketts family is going to take over all the rooftops at some point anyway…build a pedestrian walkway right through a couple of those buildings and put in a few shops as they pass through. Might make some extra money and create an extra avenue for passengers to get onto the trains.
9. Let us sit wherever we want if the sections aren’t full up
And not just at the end of games. If the park isn’t even two-thirds full by the time the fourth inning rolls around, those seats should be up for grabs. Let some of us peasants have a go at those dugout seats, eh?
10. My kingdom for a roof
A retractable one, that is. I like open-air baseball, but I can’t stand rainouts. Since in my fantasy world the rooftops are being bought out anyway, just set up a sliding roof like what the Marlins did with their taxpayer-funded ballpark. If we’re worried about the ballhawks on Waveland and Sheffield, just build the roof to slide over to the Clark side since they plan on setting up a Triangle Building anyway. While the roof is open it’ll serve as a covered alley for street vendors and what not. It could work.
All this is probably easier than my crazy idea of building an island off Navy Pier and having the Cubs play there. Imagine fishing for baseballs in Lake Michigan when Anthony Rizzo blasts one out of the park.