Even though I am a South Sider, I have been a Cubs fan all my life, since the very first day I realized girls my age loved the “Cubbies” and Wrigley Field was a great place to exploit for a first date back in high school.
(Yes, high school. I was a late bloomer in getting my heart savaged by the opposite sex.)
Still, I came to love the Cubs. Wrigley Field was always so much more fun, tightly packed in a gentrified neighborhood with lots to do before and after the game. And, the neighborhood was always safe, something I can’t honestly say about the White Sox ball park.
It doesn’t matter to me that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 108 years. I honestly love the game. I love the atmosphere. I love the food. I love the neighborhood. Maybe I don’t love the carefree “we don’t care where we urinate” fans. And most of all, I still love how women love the Cubs. (Maybe the Cubs should market a men’s cologne or something?)
I can accept the fact that the Cubs always fall short. But I can’t accept the demands by the owners of buildings adjacent to Wrigley Field who claim they have a right to profit off of the backs of the Cubs baseball team.
The building owners have renovated their rooftops so they can charge exorbitant entrance fees, and sell high-priced food and booze to the public, so the public can enjoy the Cubs games from across the street.
What right does a building owner have to sell the baseball team’s performance to their rooftop customers? That’s cheating.
Now that Wrigley Field is renovating, they also want to erect a larger scoreboard. And why not? The building owners argue the new scoreboard will block their view from their rooftops into Wrigley Field during the games.
I am sure Wrigley Field is as much as hassle to the Wrigleyville neighborhood as it is an economic boon. The businesses in the neighborhood profit enormously from the team, even if they haven’t won a World Series in more than a century.
The Cubs are a $1.8 billion franchise, the nation’s 5th most valuable baseball team, according to Forbes Magazine. I know homeowners and even local churches and organizations profit, too, from the games selling parking spaces because I have laid out the $40 for the parking privilege to be near the park. I have even shopped at the stores after the games.
I also know that having a bustling, busy baseball park smack in the heart of the neighborhood has its problems. But most of those problems come from the drunks who fill the local bars that surround the ballpark.
In truth, Wrigley Field was there before much of the residential development, built in 1914. The Cubs are the oldest sports franchise located in the same city in the country. They set a record when they played in the World Series three consecutive seasons, beginning in 1906, winning in 1907 and 1908. A century of losses doesn’t change that record.
Tell the rooftop owners to find someone else to bully and exploit. Build out that stadium, Mr. Ricketts. Make it a better park. Do whatever needs to be done to create an enjoyable atmosphere for the park attendees, not your greedy next-door neighbors.
Let’s Go Cubbies!
Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. Reach him at email@example.com.