Sunday, March 17, 2013

Winning isn't everything

Maybe Rick Reilly's right that the Cubs haven't won a World Series in over a century because Wrigley Field is so great. He's almost certainly wrong about that, but let's grant him the point. Does that mean the Cubs should allow billboards along the outer walls of the stadium, blocking the view from nearby rooftops?

Hell the fuck no, Rick. That's a terrible idea. I'm a fair-weather Cubs fan, I'll admit, but I'd like to see them win a Series in my lifetime. But I don't give a damn about the profit margins the Ricketts family gets from owning the Cubs (and if my current employer, the Tribune, still owned them, I still wouldn't care), and I don't think being a Cubs fan obligates me to. And as a resident of the city of Chicago, I care a great deal about the beauty and, yes, horror of horrors, tradition of Wrigley.

Look, it's a beautiful stadium and a great place to see a game, and the city north side entire benefits from that to some degree. It's not like I care about the rooftop owners either, but more billboards around the stadium - or anywhere else in the city - is hardly a desirable outcome.

I'm sure the facilities could be upgraded, and that would be a worthwhile improvement. By all means, build a better clubhouse and weight room and all the rest, as Reilly recommends. But let the improvements stop at the invisible stuff that the players need and maybe makes the fan experience better - we don't need more ads anywhere, let alone in one of the last great public spaces in America uncluttered with advertising.

The Ricketts family didn't buy any random baseball team with a generic corporately-named stadium. They knew what they were buying when they bought it, and they're extremely wealthy in spite of all the minor inconveniences leveled upon them by owning one of the greatest franchises in American sports. They can afford to pay players enough to win a World Series without making Wrigley just like every other ballpark in the country, so they should do it, and if they wanted a better deal on a stadium with no soul they should have bought the Sox.

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