I am loath to rip a fellow scribe--it hasn’t stopped me in the past mind you, it’s just that I’m loath to do it. Anyway, Mike Imrem of the Chicago Daily Herald has earned a hearty referral to a practitioner in the field of psychiaproctology to treat his severe case of inverse, cranial-rectum syndrome for his column Time to tear down Wrigley.
Listen up sunshine; you don’t tear down one-of-a-kind historical structures. Wrigley Field was originally built for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. It is a unique artifact of that era in baseball history. His statement:
The place is a tenement not worth saving. Despite all the compromises made the past few years, with more planned, Wrigley doesn't generate the revenues a major-market facility should.
Riiiight. I seem to remember that they’re scalping their own tickets at astonishing prices. I’m sure they could do that as people from around the country to see the latest retro HOK cookie cutter. In 2001, Wrigley Field was sixth in the NL in gate receipts alone despite seating about 40,000. (We'll touch on more up-to-date points shortly.) Take a page from the Boston Red Sox and see how you can turn a classic into a revenue-generating beast.
What’s your solution? Have the area take close to a billion dollars out of schools, healthcare, and infrastructure so we can have Camden Yards version 16.0? None of the HOK parks of the last 15 years is a national tourist attraction--Fenway and Wrigley are precisely that. Ask Peter Angelos about how many tourists he attracts to watch his team finish fourth in their division. The Cubs draw even when the club is poor. Over the last four seasons they have had two winning seasons and two losing seasons and were fourth in the NL in attendance three times and fourth once.
Of course, when the team isn’t a draw, the park still brings in fans. The novelty of a new ballpark would wear off very quickly (just ask the teams that have one)--Wrigley remains novel and becomes even more so each year. The Cubs are worth only less than the Mets and Dodgers in the NL and only those two clubs create more revenue. Every National League club with a new stadium is below them.
What does that tell you?
Mike, if you want to replace Wrigley Field are you liquidating your assets to buy stock in Enron and World.com? You may as well be--it’s about as wise a move as the one you’re suggesting.