MORRISSEY: Rosemont’s pitch for Cubs might not be so wacky
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org March 23, 2013 1:00AM
A replicated Wrigley Field in Rosemont with easier access and better amenities — that’s not so wacky, is it? | Sun-Times
Updated: April 25, 2013 6:52AM
In golf, it’s called the Silly Season, with fall and winter giving us such scintillating events as the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge and the Tyco Golf Skills Challenge. Remember the Skins Game? The epitome of the Silly Season.
That’s where we are with the Cubs and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), and it’s hard to know where the baseball spikes start and the clown shoes end. This is the silliest season of all, with Rosemont’s mayor offering the Cubs land to build a ballpark and Tunney reportedly suggesting they get rid of the historic scoreboard at Wrigley Field in favor of a video version.
As if any of that’s going to happen.
And yet . . .
And yet the more you think about it and the more your blood boils about the alderman and his leasable soul, the more you start to think that this isn’t so silly, that maybe the Cubs should take their scoreboard and go to a new home along lovely Interstate 294.
To say such a thing is heresy, of course. Fans and the ballpark have been through so much together, most of it involving losing and applying sunscreen. And Wrigleyville is a vibrant neighborhood. But there are two things that can’t be denied: (a) Ninety-nine-year-old Wrigley is a monument to decay, which is why the Ricketts family wants to renovate it; and (b) the rooftop owners, the ticks burrowed under the Cubs’ skin, aren’t going anywhere.
Comcast SportsNet recently asked viewers whether they would go to a Cubs ballpark that is not Wrigley Field. Seventy-three percent said they’d cheer for the team no matter where it played. Now, you might regard the poll as being as scientific as astrology, but there were enough voters (412) to at least give pause. Perhaps Wrigley’s grip on the city isn’t that strong. Maybe it’s being held together by Elmer’s Glue.
For those of us who have been spanked over the years for calling the ballpark a dump, the results of even that small sample size are stunning. I would have bet $100 the opposite would have been true — that fans, given the opportunity, would form a human chain around Wrigley to stop the bulldozers.
The idea of exiting the interstate for a game in the suburbs is anathema to many Cubs followers, but what if the team could build a replicated Wrigley Field with all the amenities of a modern ballpark? What if the stadium were easy to get to and offered convenient parking? What if it had wide concourses, comfortable seats and no oozing rust? What if it featured the same scoreboard and ivy-covered walls? What if it were Wrigley West?
For starters, Wrigleyville would become Whoville, a baseball ghost town. The rooftop owners, to whom Tunney is beholden, would have wonderful views of whatever would go in Wrigley’s place. A charming shopping center, perhaps.
And the best interest of the constituents would have been served, at least in Tunney’s mind.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have conversations about the Cubs that have to do with the owner of a great earned-run average rather than the owner of a building selling a view of a product he doesn’t own?
I’d miss the feel of Wrigley and the neighborhood on the day of a game. But I wouldn’t miss the rest of this nonsense. I’d miss Tunney the way I’d miss sand in my eye.
People on both sides of the issue are trying to manipulate the message. I’m sure the Cubs loved seeing the Rosemont story get out. I’m guessing they didn’t mind the scoreboard story, either. The Rickettses might give the impression that, shucks, they’re just honored to own such a swell franchise, but they’re trying to shepherd public opinion. For them, the best part is that common sense is on their side.
This likely won’t get as far as Rosemont. It’s hard to see Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel allowing an alderman to drive away the Cubs and all the money they bring into the city. It’s hard to see Emanuel standing by while hundreds of millions of dollars that would have gone to construction of a renovated ballpark disappear into thin air.
But you never know, and right now, that sliver of doubt is the Cubs’ best friend. Maybe it’s time for the Rickettses to play Rosemont hardball with the city of Chicago, though I sense they don’t want to go there, literally or figuratively.
But being wanted sure beats the alternative Tunney is offering.