Pros and Cons of Chicago Cubs' Controversial $500 Million Stadium Facelift

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJuly 24, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 08:  A general view of Wrigley Field as the Chicago Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals on May 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wrigley Field is about to undergo a $500 million renovation that has been the subject of much discussion over the last few years.

According to The Associated Press (h/t USA Today), the stadium is about to get a serious makeover.

The Chicago City Council gave final approval Wednesday to a $500 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field that includes its first Jumbotron, improved facilities for the players in the bowels of the 99-year-old ballpark and a hotel across the street.

The Chicago Cubs have played in one of the oldest, most famous stadiums in sports for the past 99 years, but now the team's home stadium will undergo a serious transformation.

Half a billion dollars will be spent to bring the stadium up to date, but not everyone is happy with the plan.

Those who favor renovation call the stadium old and decrepit, while those opposed cite its long, poetic history as a reason to keep things the same.

It's not often that a city opposes a privately-funded renovation, but some fans will certainly be upset by this one.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of Wrigley's expensive facelift.


Pro: Attracts Younger Fans

Wrigley Field's history among baseball's greatest stadiums simply isn't enough to appeal to younger fans.

The manual scoreboard and lack of amenities have led to younger fans becoming disinterested in the ballpark, which was one of the major arguments for the renovations. The AP reports (h/t New York Daily News):

During public hearings, many fans told city officials that it was time for the ballpark to change. They said if the team was to continue to attract fans, particularly younger ones, it had to include the Jumbotron and other amenities that are common in every other Major League stadium.

Never underestimate the power of a Jumbotron to entertain fans, as most MLB team use creative games and displays to entertain fans during the game and between innings.

The ballpark is going to have several new additions that will entice younger fans and will draw them to the stadium in droves.


Con: Could Block Rooftop Views

One of the longest and most beloved traditions concerning Wrigley Field is the ability to watch the game from the surrounding rooftops of the city of Chicago.

Without Jumbotrons and massive signs to block their view, fans have been able to enjoy the view from nearby roofs for years. However, that could all change very soon, and the AP reports fans are angered by the loss of rooftop views (h/t New York Daily News).

Still looming is whether the Jumbotron and right field sign will disrupt the views of the rooftops that surround two sides of the ballpark. The owners of the rooftops, who have a contract with the Cubs to share a chunk of their revenue with the team, have said repeatedly that they might file suit if the Cubs put up anything that cuts into their views.

The Cubs would obviously prefer to keep their fans happy and let them watch games from rooftops without interruption, but this new plan could stop that from happening, ending one of the best traditions in baseball.


Pro: Advertising Will Bring in More Money

The huge billboards and the constant advertising on the team's new Jumbotron will bring in millions of dollars in advertising revenue over the next few years.

By using electronic screens to display advertisements instead of traditional billboards, the team is able to bring in advertising from many more companies, whose ads will be shown periodically on the screen.

The team will also be able to charge more for ads since the amenities will attract more fans, and more eyes on ads will lead to higher costs.

While the team is funding its own renovations, it will soon make the $500 million back in sales and advertising.


Con: Stadium Loses Its Romantic History

The thing that set Wrigley Field apart from every other stadium was its rich history.

Wrigley was one of the most romanticized stadiums due to its long history and unchanging approach. The manual scoreboard, low outfield stands and historic appearance culminated in one of the most fabled cathedrals in sports.

While the time for change has come, the stadium's greatest asset was its unwilling attitude toward change, and that will be lost with this renovation.



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