For years, Wrigley Field was seen as somewhat of an afternoon party spot. Regardless of the product placed on the field, Cubs fans and casual fans alike would flock to the friendly confines on Chicago's north side. Never mind the fact that the Cubs had not won a World Series in nearly a century—the beer was cold, the atmosphere was pleasant and a seat inside Wrigley Field was like experiencing Americana firsthand.
Over the course of nearly 30 years, former owner of the Chicago Cubs, the Tribune Company, transformed the Cubs into a national baseball icon. The Cubs went from being a baseball team nobody outside of Chicago cared about to a nationally followed franchise of insane popularity.
In just a few short years, Wrigley Field went from "old stadium that didn't even have lights" to "the best place to watch a baseball game."
Television and radio personalities like Harry Caray, Steve Stone, Ron Santo and Pat Hughes sold the Cubs over airwaves day in and day out throughout the summers of the 1980s and 1990s. Soon, the Cubs would be recognized as one of the most popular Major League Baseball franchises, along with the tradition-rich likes of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.
By the time the millennium clock turned over, "Cub fever" was in full force, and by 2003, Wrigley Field couldn't even hold all those that longed to be a part of Cubs history.
In 2004, the Tribune Company added extra rows of so-called "premium seats" behind home plate. Just a couple of years later, the outfield bleachers were expanded, and Wrigley Field had a much greater capacity than ever before.
Still, no matter how many new seats were created, Wrigley Field could not hold all that wished to partake in the daily events.
In 2010, the oft-villified Tribune Company was bought out by new Cubs owners, the Ricketts family. Unlike the evil corporation that didn't care about winning, the Ricketts were fans first and knew that winning was the number one priority on the north side. After all, Cubs fans had to painfully endure their crosstown rival White Sox winning a world series just five years previous. If anyone would understand, it would be a family of long-time Cubs fans that understood the continual problems that any long-suffering Cubs could see had plagued the Cubs for years.
After a short time, however, Cubs fans would begin to see that Tom Ricketts and his family were not the saviors they were expected to be. During 2010—what the Ricketts family dubbed as "Year One"—the Cubs team that had finished atop their division two of the last three years was headed for a last-place finish, and the only thing the Ricketts had done was renovate bathrooms at Wrigley Field.
The saviors Cubs fans were hoping for in the Ricketts turned out to be nothing more than just a new name to call the team's owner.
Now, in 2011, Wrigley Field is feeling more like it did in the 1970s. Many of the older generation Cubs fans have come to understand that they most likely will never witness a Cubs World Series victory. Those who fell in love with the Cubs in time to be heart-broken by the 1984 letdown and 2003's "Bartman incident" simply didn't care after two quick playoff exits in 2007 and 2008.
What was once a memorable experience for millions of Cubs fans each year has soured. Attending a Cubs game at Wrigley Field was an event that ranked as high as Disney World in the mind of most Cubs fans. That feeling, however, is quickly fading.
As Cubs fans have watched nearly every other once-embattled franchise overcome adversity and hoist a World Series trophy, it's done nothing but serve as a reminder of how far from that euphoric moment the Cubs truly are. Year after year, rival teams improve and star players seemingly come out of the woodwork to lead their teams to World Series titles. Meanwhile, the Cubs are forced to watch the same bunch of overpaid underachievers.
What was once a sacred ground for hope and a cathedral of blind faith for Cubs fans has now become nothing more than just another ballpark. The beer isn't as cold anymore. The food is overpriced, and parking costs almost as much as a ticket to the game.
Worst of all, Cubs fans all know in their hearts that "next year" is still quite far away.
Finally, Cubs fans have reached their breaking point. Like a scorn lover, fooled time and time again, Cubs fans have finally decided to stage their protest. With attendance numbers falling lower with each passing game, Cubs fans have silently protested their frustration with the franchise.
Cubs fans can only hope the Ricketts family takes notice and understands that the weight of the world is, indeed, on their shoulders.
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