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Tribune Columnist: Tear down Wrigley Field

Nov 18, 2010, 11:05 AM EDT

Wrigley Field

I’m with the Tribune’s Steve Chapman on the whole “tax dollars should not be used to renovate Wrigley Field” thing, but I’m not quite sure how this follows as a “b” to that “a”:

Wrigley is attractive and charming in many ways, but it’s like driving a vintage car: After a while, the novelty is not enough to justify the antiquated design. The ivy-covered walls and manually operated scoreboard have to be balanced against the cramped concourses, primitive restrooms, modest kitchen facilities and obstructed views.

To even think of replacing the nostalgia-drenched ballpark is heresy to diehard Cubs fans. But Yankee Stadium was even richer in history and tradition — winning tradition, by the way — when the Yankees abandoned it in 2008 . . . A new park would rid the Cubs of their maintenance headaches, while providing them better ways to relieve fans of cash — lots of luxury boxes, better dining, new shops and diversions. It would allow the team to hire better players and pamper them in style. The architect could lovingly re-create the treasured features of the existing stadium, while omitting the shortcomings.

If the Ricketts family is too cheap to put $200-$300 million of their own money into Wrigley Field, what makes anyone think that they’d put $500 million or more into the construction of a new park? And even if this guy wasn’t opposed to public money for the Cubs — which he is — what makes him think that any government would underwrite a new ballpark for them?

All of that said, a new ballpark for the Cubs would represent something entirely different than New Yankee Stadium represented for Yankees fans.  The Cubs experience is not just about Wrigley Field. Location accounts for a large part of it.  Unlike the Yankees, the Cubs couldn’t just build a new park across the street. If they could, that might even make a lot of sense.  No, if the Cubs were to get a new park it would be in, like, Naperville or Schaumburg or something.  And that would be about the most depressing thing ever.

  1. Professor Longnose - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    They could play on the south side for a couple of years while Wrigley was knocked down and a new stadium was erected on the same site. That’s what the Yankees did in 1974 and 1975 when the old stadium was renovated.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Before Cellular Field was finally built across the parking lot for the Sox they we’re doing the “Jersey-a-la-Yankees” threat and proposing to move to Addison (about 6 miles southeast of Schaumburg)on an old Kmart site.
    Build a new park where the Lincoln Park zoo is and be done with it.
    If this was 20 years ago, I’d say build it in Schaumburg and I’ll put a deck on my roof. As it turns out, the deck would only view a Midevil Times and salmanella chicken is not among my favorites.

  3. Alex K - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Naperville is a LOOOONG way for people in the city of Chicago to go. Schaumburg, while much closer than Naperville, is a pretty long drive long drive because of traffic. If the Cubs played a night game during the week in one of those places it could easily take anywhere between 1.5-3 hours to get to the park (not including parking and walking to the stadium). I don’t think it makes sense for the Cubs to play anywhere but Wrigley.

    I’m not saying that Wrigley is perfect and should never change, but it’s also not a bad place to watch a game. It doesn’t have the creature comforts, but I’ve been to both NY stadiums (old and new), and if I had a choice I would watch a game at Wrigley 9/10 times before them (even if the Cubs weren’t playing).

    • thecubsfan - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:46 PM

      “Naperville is a LOOOONG way for people in the city of Chicago to go. Schaumburg, while much closer than Naperville, is a pretty long drive long drive because of traffic.”

      A lot of people going to Cubs games are actually making those drives (or longer). People in the city will surely be unhappy, but all the people the Cubs get from the suburbs will be happy if the park is somewhere along I-355

      hackerjay’s right though, they’d always just build it right in the same place. The neighborhood would be mighty unhappy while it’s going on (and the Cell or even Miller Park seems more likely then Solider Field and it’s awful grass) but they’re not going anywhere.

      • Alex K - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:29 PM

        I know all that. But it is more than just the city people that will be affected. Think about all the people that live in different suburbs north and south of the city, or people coming from Indiana. It makes it a lot harder for them, too.

  4. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Sure tear the place down that made me fall back in love with baseball…my history with the park is under a decade old and I’d freak if it were demolished, imagine what actual true-blue long-time Cubbies fans would do? You can’t just up and destroy national landmarks. Although Chicago did it to Soldier Field so hmmmm…

  5. Jonny 5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    I love old things. I love ancient buildings. antiques, artifacts. I collect things like this. I was dead set against Yankee stadium coming down. It sucked to see all that history get destroyed for “progress”. I love Wrigley, I love Fenway. If anyone tears these down, I will personally find them and kick their A$$e$. Yeah, that.

  6. kander013 - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    “lots of luxury boxes, better dining, new shops and diversions.”

    You’re at a baseball game. You should go to watch the game, not divert your attention from what’s taking place on the field.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:15 PM

      I’ve been waiting for someone to say this, thank you.

      I feel similarly about the free agents; if Wrigley doesn’t woo you as a free agent, you’re just ignorant.

  7. hackerjay - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    if they ever do decide to knock down Wrigley the Cubs would play a few seasons either at the Cell or at Soldier Stadium while they built a new stadium on the same piece of land that Wrigley was. Wrigley is in a pretty nice neighborhood, so they wouldn’t have any real reason to move to the suburbs or a different part of Chicago.

    I’m a lifelong Cubs fan, and I would hate to see Wrigley go. However, if they did something like what they did with Soldier Field, only better, I wouldn’t mind. Tear down everything but the outfield wall and scoreboard and rebuild the rest of the stadium.

  8. sosascork - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    With some of the highest ticket prices in the league, a renovation would make it difficult for even the Lincoln Park Trixies to afford to attend a game at Chicago’s Biggest Beer Garden.

  9. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    If the Cubs got a new park, they’d lose half of their fanbase. Go to Wrigley someday, and ask 100 people why they’re there. Far more than 50 would say it’s partially or mostly because of Wrigley.

    The place isn’t a disaster, and if you need some high level of comfort that you’d otherwise find at a damn spa, you don’t belong in a ballpark.

  10. elric718 - Nov 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    I think what they should do is leave the outfield wall, ivy, bleachers and scoreboard pretty much untouched. Rip down the part in foul territory, and build that up as one of these modern things, but that fits with the current design.

    But what do I know, I am not from Chicago.

  11. bigdicktater - Nov 18, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    I think if you buy the Cubs (and any other major league club in any sport) you should also be responsible for the stadium. That’s an integral part of your business. No taxpayer dollars pay for my “infrastructure”. I was priveleged to attend a Cubs game a few years ago with my Dad, who was in a wheelchair. Yeah, the stadium is old, but that’s why folks love it. Everyone there went out of their way to ensure he was comfortable and had a wonderful time. If you’ve never been there………go!

  12. sarrafoggarty - Mar 24, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Heck tear that dump down and toss the cubs out of Chicago, we have a winning team, what do we need the losers for? I for one wouldn’t miss the overcrowded trains going to the northside or the traffic jams or the drunken fools in the area, thats my neighborhood and I will celebrate when wrigley is finally gone.

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