Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the major leagues. It is also one of the most historic and one of the few old school stadiums still standing. When the Ricketts Family bought the team in 2009, they promised sweeping changes were coming to this franchise.
While those sweeping changes still have yet to translate to the product on the field, other changes are already being made. In January, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts announced a new $500 million plan to renovate the 99-year-old ballpark.
Here is what these renovations could look like when all is said and done. Among the changes that will be coming will be a new Cubs clubhouse, new press box, widened concourses, more restaurants and bars, and merchandise shops among other things.
There is even rumors about adding a jumbotron. The only things that I like about this new proposal are the new clubhouse, press box, and concourse expansion. Being one of the reporters who covers the team, I can tell you from personal experience those changes will be very welcomed.
The current locker room is very cramped for space. The media room where the team holds it’s press conferences is just south of there. The media room looks more like a boiler room. The visitor’s locker room needs an overhaul as well.
The press box is still functional but it could use a little updating. Remodeling the concourses is a must. There are too many accidents waiting to happen, especially when drunks are involved.
But the other proposed changes concern me greatly. The first thing that I worry about is Wrigley becoming over commercialized. With the new changes, more room for ads and sponsorship is certain to come.
Fenway Park managed to avoid over commercialization when it was renovated. Even the New Yankee Stadium managed to stay true to the old stadiums roots to some degree. But with the Wrigleyville-Lake View area being a very vibrant place for businesses and advertising, the updated Wrigley Field is sure to follow suit.
Perhaps the bleacher entrance off of Waveland Avenue could be plastered with ad’s:
Another issue I have is that if you add more restaurants and bars, you’ll be creating even more competition for the other food and beverage venues that are already in the area. This is an area of the neighborhood that is already over-saturated.
Then we have the prospect of new merchandise shops. This is another aspect of Wrigleyville that is extremely crowded. Cubs merchandise is expensive to begin with, creating more spaces to sell the goods won’t make much of a difference.
Then there is the rumor of a possible jumbotron. This is probably the worst idea in all of this. In order to make room for such an addition, you will either have to get rid of the green scoreboard or block the view of the rooftops.
The hand operated scoreboard is the main reason why Wrigley is so special. Taking that away will ruin most if not all of the stadium’s essence.
Plus, the rooftop owners for years have done everything in their power to appease Cubs management so they can stay in business. If their views were obstructed it would painfully effect their business. And if that happens, you can expect a handful of lawsuits.
The good news is, the prospect of installing a jumbotron is just a rumor and not part of the renovation plans. Regardless of how I feel, these renovations will go through barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Let’s just hope this new plan won’t hurt the ambiance and the history this park has built over the ages.