Tribune Columnist: Tear down Wrigley Field
Wrigley is attractive and charming in many ways, but it’s like driving a vintage car: After a while, the novelty is not enough to justify the antiquated design. The ivy-covered walls and manually operated scoreboard have to be balanced against the cramped concourses, primitive restrooms, modest kitchen facilities and obstructed views.
To even think of replacing the nostalgia-drenched ballpark is heresy to diehard Cubs fans. But Yankee Stadium was even richer in history and tradition — winning tradition, by the way — when the Yankees abandoned it in 2008 . . . A new park would rid the Cubs of their maintenance headaches, while providing them better ways to relieve fans of cash — lots of luxury boxes, better dining, new shops and diversions. It would allow the team to hire better players and pamper them in style. The architect could lovingly re-create the treasured features of the existing stadium, while omitting the shortcomings.
If the Ricketts family is too cheap to put $200-$300 million of their own money into Wrigley Field, what makes anyone think that they’d put $500 million or more into the construction of a new park? And even if this guy wasn’t opposed to public money for the Cubs -- which he is -- what makes him think that any government would underwrite a new ballpark for them?
All of that said, a new ballpark for the Cubs would represent something entirely different than New Yankee Stadium represented for Yankees fans. The Cubs experience is not just about Wrigley Field. Location accounts for a large part of it. Unlike the Yankees, the Cubs couldn’t just build a new park across the street. If they could, that might even make a lot of sense. No, if the Cubs were to get a new park it would be in, like, Naperville or Schaumburg or something. And that would be about the most depressing thing ever.