Wrigley is Changing More Than the Roster

It seems appropriate that Rob G. would ask me to guest post for him in his absence about improvements to the ballpark.  If you have read anything of mine at Tales from Aisle 424, you know I am a season ticket holder there since the 1998 season, so I tend to mention the ballpark, its facilities, and the Cubs' staff more than most Cubs blogs. 

This year, there is quite a bit of change happening in the old ballpark.

The aspect that has gotten the most press is, of course, the bathrooms.  Basically, the bathrooms on the concourse level will get noticeably larger for the ladies, and slightly larger for the men.  The troughs will remain and they will all get a good cleaning.

The most interesting thing about this part of the changes is the reaction to it.  Some people seem to love the troughs as a "Wrigley tradition" more than anyone should have feelings for a bathroom fixture.  Other people hate the troughs more than Hitler.  I'm pretty confident in my heterosexuality and am big on spending the least amount of time in the bathroom when I have paid more the $60 to be in the ballpark, so I come down on the pro-troughs side simple for efficiency, but I wouldn't cry if they ever went away.  HINT: If your problem with troughs is the stage fright, try computing complicated math problems in your head as you try to go.  I don't know why, but it works.

As for me, of all the changes that can be seen outlined by Paul Sullivan here and Dave Kaplan here, there are two in particular that interest me as a season ticket holder that attends more than 40 games per year in that ballpark.

First. the new PNC Club of Chicago is interesting to me because I have long been concerned about the possibility of PSLs coming into play at Wrigley, and this could seem to be a step in that direction.  They have converted a number of the individual skyboxes on the left field side into a fancy club that I will almost assuredly never see unless I take a tour of Wrigley on a non-game day. Over at Aisle 424, I did a post about the various PSL plans that are currently in place in the major leagues and what I found was that the only PSL plans in place were begun when the teams went to new ballparks.  Also, the PSLs were sold more as club memberships that entitle the owners to perks above and beyond what "regular" season ticket holders would get in their plans.

However, despite the opening of the PNC Club, I tend to believe Crane Kenney when he says that PSLs are not coming to Wrigley anytime soon.  For one, the Cubs seem to be following the model of the Red Sox in maximizing the revenue streams in an old ballpark and the Red Sox do not have a PSL plan.  Also, the Mets and Yankees don't have PSLs in their new high-end ballparks, so clearly there is a model for bringing in the dollars without having to take a PR hit by introducing PSLs to Wrigley.

Secondly, the biggest change, in my opinion, is not a physical change, but a change in how the operations in the ballpark will become more fan friendly (in theory).  The Cubs hired Jahaan Blake (who worked in the Red Sox organization at one point) as a Chief Hospitality Officer and has been tasked with making sure the Cubs' flowery words in the marketing promotions translates into the actual experience when fans attend a game. 

This is part of the Ricketts' overall vision of Disneying up the ballpark so that fans won't notice or care as much that the prices are getting really, really high.  According to Crane Kenney in an interview with Bleed Cubbie Blue, there will be an army of Game Ambassadors that will be evaluating every aspect of the fan experience at Wrigley:

"They will be riding the remote bus from DeVry. They’ll be riding the El from downtown. They’ll be secret shopping our food seeing whether is the hot dog warm, is the beer cold. They’ll be monitoring the restrooms. They’ll be basically touching every point where a fan comes into contact with our ballpark even including the remote parking lot. How is the bus traffic from DeVry to the ballpark? Are the bus routes appropriate on game days where it’s a day game versus a night game, day game weekend, week day. Have we done everything we possibly can to make the bike corral work well? To help the pedestrians get from the El platform to the ballpark."

How they respond to the data they recover from these Ambassadors will be key to whether this is simply more Tribune fan-speak or if they are intent on making sure that when I pay $20 for a hot dog, I can be reasonably assured that it will actually be hot.

I'd be satisfied with an occasional thank you from the ticket office and ushers who are good at making sure people who don't know where they are going find the correct seats.  I'm a simple man with simple tastes. 

We'll see how they do once the season starts and the inevitable stupid questions from fans erode their resolve.


So I thought I had formatted this post so that a "Read more" link would be included, but apparently not. Sorry, Rob, and thanks for asking me to post here.

Thanks for the post. Enjoy your writing at Tales from Aisle 424 and am glad to see you here.

As you noted below, the reader comments following the Trib's coverage of the proposed Toyota sign are classic.

Here is just one of my faves:

"Come on! Be original! Every park has a giant illuminated sign. How about erecting a 74 foot tall Vienna Sausage over the right field bleachers?"

The most interesting thing about this part of the changes is the reaction to it. Some people seem to love the troughs as a "Wrigley tradition" more than anyone should have feelings for a bathroom fixture.

Depends on if you are, shall we say, self-conscious as I am. At some point I'll probably get a big sports car to compensate.

The troughs are non-literally the only good thing about Wrigley. Wait, maybe literally, because Wrigley pretty much sucks, literally.

Literally or figuratively? If literally, please explain how this occurs.

Apparently, you've never experienced the Wrigley glory holes?

Suddenly, I feel dirty...

suddenly i feel aroused.

Now you know why Ron always takes so many breaks during the game.

Oh, Dear God.


Hey Trans!!!

Hey, Jacos!

I'm proud to be the one who awoke the Trans.

~takes a bow

I was so hoping that you'd be the one I woke up to, this beautiful Spring morning.

"They’ll be monitoring the restrooms. They’ll be basically touching every point where a fan comes into contact with our ballpark..."

Hazard pay?

I'm uncomfortable with any sentence that includes the words "restrooms" and "touching."

"Yet Kenney insisted that blocking a competing sign is not the point of the location of the proposed billboard."

That is total bullshit.  The only reason to put the sign where they are planning on putting it is to block the Horseshoe sign.

The comments are hilarious.  Much angst over an advertisement that will do nothing more than block the advertisement that already exists across the street.


"I think if Silva's back to throwing in the low 90s, he can be effective and might actually be the Cubs' best No. 5 starter, at least in the short term. If he's still throwin in the high 80s, though, I would choose Marshall or Samardzija."

How do I apply for the job of secret shopper? I'd be willing to test out the comfort of the seats, etc...

Beneath the stands Wrigley has all the ambience of a medieval dungeon, especially during rain delays. Still...

Trough Trick: Hum Elvin Bishop's 'Let it Flow...'

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Umps strikezone is awful. Giving Lackey a good 6 inches off the plate.

  • Apparently it was greedy agents who kept pushing the envelope and teams backed away. He then fired his agents and by that time the landscape had changed. The July push had passed and teams were willing to be patient.

    As far as what happened to the Giants' deal, I don't know. But perhaps he looked at the two rosters and realized the Cubs had the better chance of winning going forward. Maybe the Cubs swooped in and gave him $500,000 more and he bit. I don't know. What I do know is he signed the day after the Cubs won the wildcard game rather impressively...

  • That's great to hear AZ Phil. If anyone should know, it'd be you. You've witnessed the transformation first-hand on a daily basis!! Thanks for passing that along and confirming what has seemed quite evident from afar!

  • Lester didn't have much movement there in inning one. Doubt the long break between starts helped him. Rizzo popping out way too often the last 6 weeks. 22 pitches for Lackey through 2.

    Tough start.

  • For Quintin to be in the team (should they get past the Cards) maybe a pitcher gets the axe.

  • if the cubs make it past STL (and molina behind the plate) it'll be interesting to see if they find a home for q.berry on the roster as a running substitution tool.

  • RHP Jason Hammel replaces OF Quintin Berry on the Active Roster, as the Cubs go from 10 pitchers in the Wild Card game to 11 pitchers in the NLDS. 

  • the story checks out.

    also, i agree.

  • So all this business about Maddon being an old Cards fan and Arrieta being in Matt Carpenter's wedding... I have really strong feelings about this stuff. I'm not sure if I really enjoy it or really despise it, but I feel strongly about it...

  • Joe.

  • Today's Loss puts new meaning into their national anthem: O Canada

  • LaTroy does what he's always done best, blow games on the line. Still breaking management hearts at age 42.

  • I'm sure Fox is thrilled with the ratings potential of a Rangers + Astros ALCS. Ha.

  • LaTroy is going to LaTroy

  • I am remarkably calm about today's game. Not that I am expecting to win, but that I have no expectations at all either way.

    If the Cubs game goes to 14 innings, I will no longer be calm.

  • TEX/TOR in the 14th inning, btw...fun stuff.