It’s official — Wrigley Field is entering the 21st century and becoming just like every other ballpark everywhere.
Soon enough, baseball’s grandest cathedral will have its first ever Jumbotron, though the team is calling it a “70-foot LED board.” Plans for the LED board were unveiled at Cubs Convention today, the team’s annual ooey gooey love fest wherein hope is pumped in through the air vents at a downtown hotel and thousands of fans crowd around, all wanting to believe that this year is the year.
It’s all part of a grander restructuring of the right field bleacher area, which will now feature the aforementioned LED board/Jumbotron and a new patio area sponsored by Budweiser, officially giving the brewing company full sponsorship of Wrigley Field’s outfield seating area (the bleachers are known as the “Bud Light Bleachers”, though in 30 years of going to Cubs games, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone call them that.) This would certainly explain all the construction that’s been going on in the right field corner this offseason.
But even still…a JumboTron? At Wrigley Field? Our verdict, is brought to you by alt-rock legend Juliana Hatfield.
Ugly. With a capital U.
I’m not sure what the Ricketts or President of Business Operations Crane Kenney were thinking when this decision was greenlighted, but the end result is an aesthetic nightmare as you can see above. The JumboTron…pardon me, LED board…looks horribly out of place when it comes to the rest of the Wrigley Field architecture. If anything, this seems almost like an attempt at incorporating a bit of Fenway Park into Wrigley Field’s historic architecture by raising the seating area and creating a patio area in right field. The seating arrangement above looks similar to Fenway’s Green Monster seats and nothing like the rest of the outfield seating area.
Yahoo! blogger and fellow Chicagoan Maggie Hendricks made another interesting point:
Part of Wrigley’s charm has always been its status as the quintessential neighborhood big league park. Adding a JumboTron and raising the seating area to take some of the neighborhood out of view ruins a lot of the aesthetic. I said on Twitter and I’ll reiterate it here, if you’re going to add a video board to the outfield wall at Wrigley, why not just tear the whole thing down and start from scratch?
The move was supposedly designed to enhance the fan experience at Wrigley by providing up to date stats. I’m not sure how these stats are going to be any more up-to-date than the ones that are on the hand-operated scoreboard or the light board underneath it, but then again I’m a writer and not a billionaire baseball team owner so what do I know?
No, today’s announcement reeks of a money grab and that’s where this all makes sense. Putting ads on the ivy would cause the entire city of Chicago to riot. Likewise, replacing the iconic green scoreboard in center would cause a similar reaction. This LED board allows the team to add another vehicle to sell advertisements without completely desecrating the park. But again, if it’s going to look anything like what you see above, it’s going to be ugly and people are going to be even more pissed than they are now when they see it in action during the season.