Joey Sykes | Asst. Sports Editor
From Fenway’s Green Monster in Boston to the hallowed halls of Old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, baseball parks have a long tradition of being some of the most beautiful and exciting venues to visit in the world of sports.
Chicago’s Wrigley Field, with its hand-operated scoreboard and ivy-dressed walls, rivals any other baseball cathedral.
Constructed nearly 101 years ago with the original moniker of Weeghman Park, the Chicago Cubs have called the field their home for 99 seasons. As the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, it’s not surprising in the least that some of baseball’s most famous (as well as infamous) moments have taken place within its confines. From Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” in 1932 to the Steve Bartman incident in 2003, Wrigley Field has helped script its share of baseball’s history book.
With its retro look and storied history, you would think the ballpark could and would never change. However, that’s not the case as the stadium has already begun its biggest renovation project in its history.
Dubbed the “1060 Project,” which takes its name from the baseball field’s address at 1060 Addison Street in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood, the renovations are planned in four “phases” over the next three years according to the official website of the Chicago Cubs. New additions to the ballpark include structural work, over 300 more seats, two video boards (including a new scoreboard in right field) and new terraces and concessions around the venue. And that’s just phase one.
Other plans include a new hotel down the street, a new 30,000-square foot player facility, new luxury suites, an open-air plaza and much, much more. In total the renovations plan to cost around $500 million, according to ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg.
At that cost, it’s confusing why anyone would want to pour that much capital into a century-old stadium instead of just constructing a new one without damaging the legacy with these new renovations.
First off, the new bleachers and scoreboard that will be installed will block a good portion of the rooftop apartments that overlook the stadium across the street from right field. Owners of apartments surely made a killing by selling tickets for seats on their roofs. In fact, the apartment owners are currently engaged in a legal dispute with the Cubs because the installations of bleachers and an obstructive scoreboard could bankrupt them, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Jared Hopkins.
Secondly, the old nostalgic feel to the stadium is in jeopardy with its new LED scoreboards, plazas, concessions and luxury suites. It’s like the game isn’t even at the center of the fan experience anymore.
Every good thing must come to an end, so why can’t that hold true at Wrigley? The new technologies and improved facilities will be an adjustment after nearly a century without it, but in the end, a new stadium would be tremendous. Just ask Yankees fans. They struggled with the same ordeal in 2008, when the precursor to the current Yankee Stadium was demolished, but the new cathedral is one of the most beautiful parks in the nation.
It’s still cool that the Cubs have the opportunity to win a World Series at Wrigley, but with their luck, that may be a long way off. While it won’t look or feel the same way, the memories that the green ivy walls evoke will never fade, and that’s all you can ask for as a fan of either the Cubs or simply baseball in general. It’s never about where the game is played. It’s about the game and the manner in which it is played.