Ricketts Wrigley makeover sorely needed
Let's set the money aside for one moment, difficult as that is to do.
If the Cubs and the city of Chicago can come to an agreement on allowing the Ricketts family to spend $300 million to renovate Wrigley Field, there's only one thing to say: full speed ahead.
Look, everybody loves Wrigley Field, but the place is in embarrassingly bad shape. It looks picture-postcard perfect on TV, and the view from the press box out toward the ivy and beyond to Lake Michigan is spectacular.
But if you have to work at the ballpark, especially if your job is a baseball player, you need better.
The home clubhouse is the smallest in baseball, and when reporters are in there before and after games, there is little room to breathe, let alone move. The weight room is makeshift. There is no indoor batting cage near the clubhouse as there is in other parks, so when a pinch hitter wants to loosen up during a game, he has to go into the clubhouse, where the Cubs set up a tee and a net. They have to cover up the TV along the wall in case the ball goes askew.
Office space is cramped, and fans know fully well what happens when they have to get up for a hot dog or to answer nature's call. So when the Cubs announced at their convention Saturday that there would be substantially more restroom space, the cheers went up so much that you would have thought Tony Campana entered the ballroom (more on him in a bit).
The Cubs say they want to be treated like a business and not a museum. That's fair.
There's a little something for the free-market capitalist in all of this. There's also something for the union men and women who will get jobs.
Best of all, there will be something for the players and the fans. I'm intrigued by the possible use of Sheffield Avenue on game days, much the same way the Red Sox use Yawkey Way outside Fenway Park. What that does is effectively enlarge the ballpark.
If the Cubs do put in a Jumbotron, they promise not to gimmick it up with Kiss Cams and noise-o-meters. I'll take their word for it.
Here's hoping the Cubs and the city of Chicago can strike a deal. It's either that or continue to watch Wrigley Field crumble before our eyes.
To the clear bemusement of the media and Cubs management, the big winner at the weekend's Cubs convention was backup outfielder Tony Campana, who rates right now as a fifth outfielder at best on a major-league team.
Back-to-back fans during the baseball-management sessions extolled the virtues of the speedy Campana. One guy touted him as a good leadoff hitter. Two things: Do those fans not know Campana's on-base percentage (.306), and do they not know who's running this team?
We all love those gritty gamers who grind it out, but if Campana is going to have any future in the major leagues, he's going to have to get on base more, make harder contact and keep the ball out of the air. He seems the antithesis of the players team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer value.
Working the bugs out:
This was the first Cubs convention at the Sheraton downtown after many years at the Hilton. There were some good things (the red-carpet introductions and the involvement of minor-leaguers) about the new venue, but there were also some negatives.
The hallways and exhibit areas were extremely congested at times. I went down for a visit to the exhibit halls between sessions Saturday and left within a matter of minutes because I could not move.
The Cubs and the Sheraton will have to do better with the food, too. There were buffet-type lines set up on the floors and in the exhibit halls. The pizza in some of these lines looked like it had been out for hours and hardly looked appetizing.
Maybe it was because of the popularity of some sessions, but fans stood two and three deep along the walls in the ballrooms.
Let's hope the Cubs start doing their post-convention evaluations starting Monday morning and get to work right away on making improvements. The fans deserve better.
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