Ever since president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer took control of the Cubs’ baseball department, the emphasis has been on how the front office duo plan to change the culture of the players that call Wrigley Field. Epstein’s arrival put Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts other plans on the back-burner. Cubs fans have learned this off-season that Ricketts is an owner that operates in silence and that appears to be the case for Ricketts and his current activities.
The goal for the Ricketts’ family since they took control of the Cubs’ organization has been to emulate the Boston Red Sox way of success. Ricketts finally appears to be headed in that direction. With former Red Sox general manager Epstein heading the Cubs’ baseball department, the Cubs may be on a path to become the Red Sox of the Midwest. If that is the case, is Wrigley Field going to become the Fenway Park of the Midwest?
Ricketts and Cubs’ president of business operations Crane Kenney have had multiple trips to Boston to visit Fenway Park. Their visits were more focused on Fenway Park itself rather than the team playing at storied ball-park. One of the biggest assets that Ricketts and Kenney took away from their trips to Fenway Park was how the organization utilized their advertising opportunities. Whether it is “The Green Monster” or the scoreboard at Fenway Park, the Red Sox organization took advantage of every advertising opportunity that Fenway Park holds.
Wrigley Field is beginning to progress towards that direction as well. Cubs’ fans have already seen the Toyota Sign put up in the left field bleachers, in addition to the “Noodle” statue that was outside of Wrigley Field for short-time period last season. But the next change to Wrigley Field may be the biggest of all.
During the Cubs’ Convention this weekend, the team announced a new bleacher patio and seats for the right field section. The Chicago Tribune labeled the new seats as the “Top of the Ivy” seats, connecting the dots to Fenway Park and their top of the monster seats. In addition to th new seats, the Cubs unveiled plans to build a 75-foot LED non-replay scoreboard to go underneath the new section of seats. While the new scoreboard will hold various statistic categories, it also opens a new line of revenue for Wrigley Field. The renovation to the right field bleachers in addition to the new scoreboard are expected to be completed by the time the 2012 season starts.
It has always amazed me that Cubs’ fans have been strongly against renovating Wrigley Field. The expectation on my part is that the right field renovation is likely the stepping stone to larger renovation plans for Wrigley Field going forward. Wrigley Field will always be one of the, if not the most historic ball-park in all of baseball. Having said that, like the Red Sox did with Fenway Park, the Ricketts’ family needs modernize Wrigley Field. Not only would such a process improve the Wrigley experience, but it will also open new streams of revenue for the organization. While we are all fans at heart, the bottom-line is that motivation for Ricketts’ in his operations of the Cubs’ organization should be the almighty dollar.