Does anybody understand what the Chicago Cubs are trying to do? By now everyone knows about the video Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts released a week ago saying the time was now to move ahead with plans to restore Wrigley Field. This closed negotiations with the rooftop club owners over expansion plans for Wrigley Field.
On Tuesday the Cubs released revamped renderings that showed more renovations than what had already been approved by the Chicago City Council. Among the added renovation features were more signage in the outfield, added light towers in left and right fields and moving the bullpens under the bleachers. They claimed the new plans would be presented to the Chicago City Council on June 5, and Cubs President of Baseball Operations was quoted as saying the Cubs planned to start construction on the clubhouse and plaza in July with the bleacher construction beginning in the fall.
However, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who supported the initial renovation plans, said that he needed time to look over the revised plans and that they would not be presented to the City’s Commission on Landmarks on June 5. According to Cubs spokesman Julian Green, the Cubs are talking to the city every day. He said the Cubs are hopeful the revised plan will be approved, saying it is “consistent with the framework already approved last year.” The Cubs hope to be able to present the revised plans as soon as possible, but when that will be is up to the mayor.
“When we receive our approvals, we will order materials immediately (not begin construction), Green said. He added that the Cubs would like to start work in the triangle lot in mid-July.
As with reaction to the video, reaction to the revised plan has been swift on blogs and social media. It appeared to many that the revised plans were another “wish list” of what the Cubs would like to do, knowing they won’t get it all approved. While many fans liked what they saw in the renderings, there was concern that Wrigley would no longer look like a charming ballpark, but a state-of-the-art stadium. There is also some debate over the landmarked status of the outfield walls and the ivy should the bullpens be relocated under the bleachers.
To those who are afraid Wrigley Field will lose its charm, Green told Examiner.com, “Wrigley Field will never be just another baseball stadium. We’re working very closely with Landmarks to ensure all changes protect the historic features of the ballpark. We have a world-class design and build team that has worked on Lambeau Field, Rose Bowl and Dodger Stadium. We’re certain Wrigley Field will remain a baseball icon.”
There will always be people who want nothing to change about the ballpark, but the truth is that everything changes. People are relying on electronic devices for almost everything. If adding video boards and signage helps attract new fans and will bring in new revenue streams to help build the park and the team, perhaps it’s time to embrace the future. People were upset when the Cubs expanded the bleachers; however, they did a very good job of keeping the look the same both from the field and within the bleachers and people were surprised at how well that turned out. Maybe it’s time to give the Cubs another chance. It might just prove to be good for the team, good for the fans and good for the neighborhood.