The Chicago Cubs announced last week that they will be spending $300 million over a five-year span to renovate the venerable Wrigley Field. Renovations on the ballpark will commence in 2014 and will continue through the next five subsequent offseasons.
The move to renovate the 99-year-old stadium has been discussed for years and will undoubtedly bring many positive changes to the structure and the surrounding neighborhood.
However, one critical issue seems to have been forgotten.
The wind speed and direction at Wrigley has always played an active part in the dynamics of the ballpark. In the early months of the season, winds off Lake Michigan generally blow in and create an environment favorable for pitchers. This dynamic seems to change later in the season during the warmer months when winds shift to the west and create a wind tunnel effect favorable for hitters.
The Wrigley wind effect was evident last season during a Memorial Day matinee against the San Diego Padres. The Cubs and Padres hit a combined eight home runs in a game that featured steady 35 mph wind gusts blowing out towards the Lake. The Cubs won the game 11-7, and the Wrigley wind effect definitely had a hand in the outcome of the game.
Even Padres third baseman Chase Headley remarked to ESPNChicago about the favorable hitting conditions after the loss.
"When it's hot and you come here and the wind's blowing, you're going to be rewarded for good swings," Headley said. "When the conditions are like that, you know you have to put up a good amount of runs to be able to win the game."
That game is just one example of what has been commonplace for years at the old ballpark. Wind speed and direction generally play a huge role in the outcome of games.
So why is wind speed and direction such a big deal?
Well, when you are trying to build a championship team, there needs to be some constants. When a ballpark’s playing attributes are unpredictable from one day to another, it is hard to construct a team that is well-suited to play in the said environment.
That has been a problem for the Cubs over the years.
Adding all the cosmetic upgrades to the ballpark are great and will surely foster a renewed sense of pride at Wrigley. But what good are all of these cosmetic changes if the same problems with winds and airflow persist?
Well, the best solution for the Cubs would be to hire an architectural consultant and have some “wind tests” done on Wrigley to see whether or not the airflow concerns could be addressed. Being able to address those concerns could make Wrigley an even more friendlier confine.
Just a suggestion!