Will Cardinals Recognize Wrigley Field?


With no game on the St. Louis Cardinals agenda today, I thought I’d look ahead at the season opener on April 5.

Any analysis of the Chicago Cubs will come later. This column is all about the Cardinals opening the 2015 season at Wrigley Field, a ballpark that is in the beginning stages of a controversial renovation project.

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In case you haven’t been updated, here is the story: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts wants to end over a century of frustration and bring a World Series champion to Wrigley Field. He also realizes areas of the park are in disrepair. There’s a reason the netting catches concrete pieces as they fall down.

In an effort to save the park and bring a champion to Wrigley, Ricketts has undertaken a massive $375 million renovation of Wrigley that will help restore the ornate look of the park. It will also bring 21st century amenities like video boards into the park, and here is where the controversy begins.

If you’ve watched a Cardinals game with the Cubs at Wrigley, you know the “grand sweep of the bleachers” lets you see the rooftops of the homes across the street.

But wait. The Cubs were in such a hurry to begin this project that the bleachers won’t even be ready for the season opener. You will see two gaping holes where seats should be.

There’s a reason why Wrigley is immediately recognizable to fans on TV. Add in the hand-operated scoreboard, the ivy on the brick wall and the old-fashioned charm, and you know which park this is immediately.

Fans claim the “greedy rooftop owners” (their words, not mine) have had a free ride for far too long, as they are able to look right into the field and sell packages of their own to games. They’re practically foaming at the mouth to put them out of business. But many fans are overlooking the big picture.

Is this what Cub fans want?

The video board in left field will dwarf the hand-operated scoreboard in size. In many ways, it will look out of place at Wrigley. In their quest to bring in new generations of fans, will the Cubs drive away the older generation that took their kids to games, in the same way the fathers and grandfathers went to Wrigley before this?

Is this what Cub fans want?

The overwhelming answer seems to be “anything to win a World Series”. Anything. Really.

The Cubs have a solid team of young performers. I even admit the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, one which is always full of trash talk and good-natured fun, hasn’t been the same the last few years. But what happens if this young group doesn’t bring a World Series to Wrigley Field?

Do the Cubs grasp at straws? Do they rip out the ivy? Do they tear down the hand-operated scoreboard? Technically, because the park is on the list of historic landmarks, any changes to Wrigley Field would have to go through the federal government.

In the meantime, a wonderful era at Wrigley has come to an end. The older fans may go to games this year, and they may shake their heads.

In an era when Jumbotrons dominate every stadium, Wrigley Field was the lone holdout.

Now, in the fans’ quest to celebrate a title at Wrigley, they may have sacrificed the park to do it.

Now Wrigley Field will be just another ballpark.