Wrigley Field dilemma draws some parallels to old Yankee Stadium
Wednesday, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts made a veiled threat for the team to leave Wrigley Field unless certain renovations take place. Ricketts biggest priority appeared to be the building of an audacious new scoreboard, which was met with a lot of opposition. It escalated when Ricketts intimated that he would consider moving the team out of Wrigley Field if his scoreboard wasn't part of the plan.
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field has, along with Fenway Park, been the two remaining classic ballparks. In the last 10 years, Tiger Stadium closed its doors. In 2008, the Yankees moved from the "old" Yankee Stadium to the new one they currently inhabit.
Many fans felt a sentimental attachment to the old "House that Ruth Built." Fan loyalty to a ballpark really only occurs in baseball. But the Yankees explained the many reasons behind the building of the new ballpark that Ricketts can't back up.
The financial incentives for the Steinbrenner family were obvious. That's not what the debate was about. Engineers told me in 2007 that there were legitimate fears about the concrete structure not being able to hold three million people every season. That fear doesn't exist at Wrigley Field.
The structure is sound. Modern renovations would enhance the ballpark experience, but are in no way necessary for the Cubs to compete. Not that they have actually been competing, just look at their record.
The crux of the Ricketts argument is that a new scoreboard could generate $20 million a year, which in turn would be used to pay for the $300 million ballpark renovation.
The opposition comes from building owners across the street that have views of the field that would suddenly become obstructed. Enter the lawyers, and the threats.
I recommend visiting Wrigley Field to all baseball fans. When I walk into that building, it feels like I'm transported into 1921, and I contend it's nicer than Fenway Park in terms of charm. Heck, no bias is affecting that opinion, just an honest impression.
Yankee fans can sympathize with the threat of relocation from their owner. George Steinbrenner talked about moving the Bombers to New Jersey decades ago. Now, Ricketts is using a similar tactic in his quest to build a scoreboard.
The Cubs' issue does draw parallels to the Yankee Stadium issue, but it is clearly different, and appears will be headed to a different resolution.
Follow Seth Everett on Twitter: @Seth_Everett