As each day this off season goes by, and the Chicago Cubs do not break ground, All I can do is shake my head. Wrigley Field is in desperate need to some serious renovations and repairs if they intend on spending significant time in the crowned jewel of baseball. The good news is that Tom Ricketts has gotten the approval of the city of Chicago to go ahead with his plans to modernize Wrigley Field. He basically got the approval to do whatever he wanted to his ball park to ensure that the Cubs have a place to place for years to come. The problem that keeps standing in their way is the same one that has been holding them back from the beginning. The neighborhood and more specifically the rooftop owners who feel that they have the right to tell the Cubs and Mr. Ricketts what he is allowed to do with his business.
As much as I love watching baseball at Wrigley Field, I think that the time has come to move out of the beloved ballpark and build a new home elsewhere. Perhaps Ricketts will take up the offer to build a stadium in Rosemont, a place he can build his perfect ballpark without having to bend over backwards to appease every whim of those who are just leaching off of your business.
I know many fans will object to leaving Wrigley, as they love the tradition of the historic ballpark, but imagine the possibilities that could come out of moving to Rosemont and building a brand new home for the Cubs?
If given the chance to build a new ballpark, Ricketts could have someone build a larger ballpark, and could easily make the new stadium look exactly like Wrigley, only without the obvious flaws the current version has! Imagine a stadium that can easily fit 50,000 fans. A stadium without those posts that block the view of fans who have to sit behind them. Even if you are a few rows up, they will still cut out a portion of the field. If you are lucky, they obstruct the view of a lesser important area, like directly behind home plate where there is rarely ever any action taking place. The ivy walls could even make the trip to the new Rosemont stadium. You can always plant ivy to grow up the outfield walls, then you have the look and feel of home.
The only issue would be the scoreboard that fans love. Unfortunately that would have to stay put with Wrigley, but you can always build a brand new one for the new stadium. You can build a scoreboard that has the look and feel of the classic scoreboard while still giving the Cubs the large video scoreboard they plan on putting into Wrigley once they finally get the assurances they need from the rooftop leeches.
With the way technology is today, I am positive someone could build a video board the same size and shape of the current scoreboard at Wrigley. They can easily program a feature that would make the video scoreboard look like a hand operated scoreboard. You see an almost realistic changing of scores by hand, but done digitally. With the way technology continues to improve, you might not even notice the difference; at least not until the screen changes to show advertisement between innings or an in inning replay. The seventh inning stretch would even get better. No more guest’s butchering the song or taking up air time away in between innings with promotions for whatever movie they are co-staring in. Instead, the video board shows Harry Caray singing the stretch, with audio to match. After all, if someone is going to butcher the song and make our ears bleed with bad singing, you might as well have the originator of the tradition.
State of the art clubhouses for the home team, you can make inadequate ones for the visitors if you want. Keep them as uncomfortable as possible while pampering the home town team, give the Cubs as many advantages as possible! There will also be actual batting cages inside the clubhouse. I am not sure if you have gone on the Wrigley tour, but the batting cages are under the bleachers. If you want to swing a bat during the game, you have to hit a ball off of a tee in the clubhouse. Not exactly a great way to get warmed up for a pinch hitting appearance.
So, if the Cubs move out of Wrigley and build a new one in Rosemont, what do you do with the historic park? Fans might not like this, but you could rent the place out to another major league team. You could rent the place out to a team that does not draw well, even when they are winning. I am talking about the Chicago White Sox. Sure, their fans hate the place, but I do not think Jerry Reinsdorf would pass up the chance to actually see a full house every home game. If there are people who only go to Wrigley to look at the park and to drink, they would still go there if the White Sox were playing. I am sure he would be more than happy to see 40,000 fans in his ballpark almost every day.
That would be another great revenue form coming in for the Cubs. They would get whatever rent they are charging the White Sox, in addition to the money built in to the contracts with the rooftops. The same philosophy would apply to the rooftops as to the ball park. At least half the people who “watch the games” on the rooftops do not even pay attention to the game so they would not even notice if there was a different team calling the place home. The rooftops would still sell their tickets, and under the law of the contract would still be obligated to pay the Cubs the set percentage of their gates. The White Sox may claim that since they are the ones inhabiting the ballpark they deserve the fees, but the contract with the rooftops says the Cubs get the gates.
I do not really see a downside of this at all. The floodgates would open and the cash would start piling up, and over flowing the pockets of the Rickets’ family. Add in the money from the lucrative television deal which is on the horizon and there will be more than enough money to do whatever the Cubs want. They would have too much money in fact, which is never really a problem.
The only problems I could foresee are the die hard Wrigley loyalists crying out about how they do not want the White Sox playing in their stadium. But that issue is already solved by having a brand new, state of the art Wrigley Field in Rosemont to play in. That place would not be their stadium anymore. Then there are those who claim they would never go to another Cubs game again if the Cubs ever actually left Wrigley Field. To those, I give a season at most. No true Cubs fan would ever stay away by choice.
Of course, this is all just a pipe dream. Ricketts will not move out of Wrigley and will continue to fight and claw to get his way with Wrigley. He will wait for the rooftops to give their permission, something he should not even need, and the Cubs will call Wrigley Field their home for years to come.
At least until the place crumbles because the rooftops never gave their nod of approval.