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

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  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intensity of emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the mlb.tv internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup equation...plus joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.

  • most likely cost sharing + the league is short on players anyway. not many teams are chipping in on 'advanced instructional.'

  • I'm glad this is a one game playoff coming up, because McCutchen is one of my favorite MLB players. And as a baseball fan, I rather like the Pirates. I hope we beat them bad, of course. No mixed feelings here. And, I don't want a nail biter. Too old for that shit. The team of moran fans is easy to hate, though, and more suitable for a longer series.