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...'

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • See ya on parrot chat

  • In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST... 
    Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex: 
    4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes) 

    Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)  

  • There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?

  • Heyward getting the night off.

    Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd

  • Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.

    Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.

  • It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.

    I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.

  • I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.

    This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/making-too-much-of-...

  • Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!

  • Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.

  • Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.

    Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.

  • Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.

  • Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.

    Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.

  • He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.

    He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.

  • Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.

    Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.

  • That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible