Reaction to yesterday’s video featuring Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts sending the message that he is ready to start expansion of Wrigley Field has been quick and loud. Many fans applaud what Ricketts is doing, and many are totally against his plan. The rooftop owners and some Lakeview residents who live near the ballpark have been very vocal.
As was pointed out in a Bleed Cubbie Blue piece today, the rooftop owners plan to take the Ricketts to court. If they read some of the blogs, they will find out that there isn’t a whole lot of sympathy for them. Rooftop owners are claiming the Ricketts are breaking their contract with expansion, but they fail to look at a clause in the contract that says “Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this Agreement, including this section.” The Chicago City Council has already given approval for expansion to begin. However, the Cubs are asking for more than what has already been approved.
When asked why the video came out now, Cubs spokesperson Julian Green told Examiner.com, “We would have preferred to avoid litigation, but after more than a year of discussion, several concessions and many attempts to reach an agreement in the last several months alone, we are not prepared to lose another year and jeopardize our ability to deliver on promises to our players, fans, partners and neighbors.”
Fans have been quick to chime in with their opinions. David Sameshima attends a majority of the Cubs games each season. He told Examiner.com, “I hate these new revisions. I am resigned to new signage, and a video screen. I don't like the second video screen, outfield light towers and bullpen relocation. I really dread the idea of relocating the bullpens underneath the bleachers, and removing a portion of the wall and ivy to accommodate the change.”
However, Al Yellon of bleedcubbieblue.com points out, “It seems likely that the new requests the Cubs have made are being made along the same lines as the proposals the Cubs made in April 2013. They're throwing every single thing they've ever wanted in there, with the likely understanding that some of them won't be approved.”
This makes sense. Ask for as much as you can, and be willing to compromise. You can’t start with just a few items and then ask for more.
Cubs fan Thaine Lyman told Examiner.com, “I do believe the improvements are needed, irrespective of revenue impact. The demonstration about the batting "cage" is incredibly persuasive, and we all know about the netting holding up concrete, the issues with facilities, restrooms, etc. etc. It's a wonderful, magical building full of fond memories for generations of fans, but it's a really old building, too. It needs a renovation, irrespective of revenue impact.”
Some fans, like Jordan Gold, say the Cubs should move to the suburbs and forget about Wrigley Field. But Ricketts has said from day one that the family wants to preserve the ballpark for future generations.
It is clear that Wrigley Field needs work. Updating the park and bringing in new revenue streams would help the team sign players who can actually take them to the post season. Who knows, maybe if the Cubs had better player amenities – real batting cages, a bigger clubhouse, better workout facilities – this team might be better. Or, maybe not.
Before Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees, two Yankees fans from New York were admiring the ballpark when one said, “You have a beautiful park here. Don’t let them ruin it.”
Improvements are needed. Modernizing the park is needed. But it can be done without ruining the basic charm of the 100 year old park.