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.

Comments

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.

Yes?

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.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/2...

"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...'

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  • Not sure I agree with this logic. The Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball, they have spent heavily on the team over the past couple of seasons, have more hitting prospects than they have places for them to play (and more on the way), a clear weakness in the bullpen, and have a 1.5 year window with Arrieta (to say nothing of the likely declines of Lester and Lackey).

    Unless you think (maybe even if you do think) Schwarber is the next coming of Babe Ruth, I would certainly consider trading him if it brought back a couple of the best relief pitchers in baseball.

    Rob Richardson 2 hours 35 min ago view
  • Miggy was going to sit anyway with Lester starting.

    In related news, do any of the Cubs pitchers want to throw to Contreras?

    Rob G. 2 hours 47 min ago view
  • Only Russell and Miggy failed to reach base yesterday. Both sit today.

    billybucks 2 hours 55 min ago view
  • Trading Schwarber actually makes a lot of sense because his actual position is currently being taken by Anthony Rizzo, unless they vote in the DH this offseason.

    Trading him for a reliever is never going to happen though. I don't think you can trade Schwarber unless you get a CF'er for a few years (presume Fowler finds his multi-year deal next offseson) or a couple of high end young starters...or an established starter...a good one like Chris Sale.

    Rob G. 3 hours 7 min ago view
  • I don't see what the Yanks have that the Cubs need.

    Ryno 3 hours 11 min ago view
  • peter gammons on MLB network pushing the yanks/schwarber angle...says insiders from the yanks say brian cashman highly covets him.

    unless that conversation starts with a.miller (2/18m left on contract) i dunno how you even start that conversation given the "not trash, but no stars" state of the yanks minor league system.

    they got corner OF'r aaron judge, C gary sanchez, RHP james kaprielian's questionable elbow, RHP domingo acevedo...all interesting, none expected to impact the game like schwarber's power potential.

    crunch 3 hours 45 min ago view
  • Zo, Heyward, KB, Riz, Contreras (LF), Baez (SS), Szczur (CF), Ross, Lester

    Cubster 3 hours 53 min ago view
  • damn. low sample size blah blah whatever, but that slash got sneaky good. 10 hits, 4 walks, 2hr, 1 double through 39 PA...nice

    crunch 4 hours 12 min ago view
  • Buddy Ryan takes his place alongside George Allen as the great Bear head coaches who never were.

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 7 min ago view
  • Well, at least he can still hit: Jake slashing .294/.368/.868. Forget hitting 8th -- he should hit 6th.

    billybucks 7 hours 25 min ago view
  • Curious to see today's lineup vs. a LHP: Ross needs to catch Lester, Joe likes Javy at 3B when Lester pitches. Heyward with back-to-back good games at the plate, and is actually hitting a little better against LHP (.247/.341) than RHP (.232/.321), although neither is much to write home about. But, tomorrow is an early day game, so some regulars will probably sit either today or tomorrow.

    Maybe Willson in LF, KB in RF and Almora in CF? If so, Albert Jr., assume every ball is yours.

    billybucks 7 hours 30 min ago view
  • "Pitching prospects not looking so hot"

    That reminds me that Lucas Giolito will start for the Nats tonight.

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 33 min ago view
  • Well, there you go. Federowicz is one of the best at balls in the dirt.

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 53 min ago view
  • Reds pitching meeting tomorrow:

    "Hey coach...maybe we should walk Bryant?"
    "No...keep challenging him with fastballs! What kind of man are you?! The Cubs walked Harper, and look what happened there! They got teased for it, by one of the Nat players! Is that what you want?"

    billybucks 18 hours 34 min ago view
  • How can I get that feature? I think it woudl be a win-win for all involved.

    billybucks 18 hours 38 min ago view
  • Ian Happ is hitting.733 after 5 games at Tennessee. He went into tonight's game hitting .667 -- and went 3-for-3 to raise his average.

    2-for-3, including a bomb, for LaStella at Iowa. Pierce Johnson very bad -- 2IP, 5ER. Pitching prospects not looking so hot -- Underwood has been awful.

    Did Jiminez get hurt? I noticed he came out early yesterday.

    billybucks 19 hours 26 min ago view