Cubs fans are unique. You have to love them for their zeal and their knowledge of the great game of baseball. I am not a Cubs fan but I live in Chicago and count dozens of die-hard Cubs fans as my best friends. I know these fans can’t get enough of their beloved Cubbies. They talk about them year-round and long to see them win it all. They bleed “Cubbie blue” and stick with their team through thick and thin, more the latter than the former since I got to Chicago in 1969, the year they folded down the stretch in a memorable season.
But Wrigley Field is treasured by great baseball fans everywhere. At least that is what I hear over and over. Everyone wants to go there to see a game. I have more requests, from out-of-town friends who visit me, to go to Wrigley than almost any place in this great city. They’ve heard about it, seen it on a gorgeous sunny day on television, know baseball history and just need to “see” Wrigley Field once. It is like a museum to baseball history. (I do get this part of the love affair!) Well, I’ve seen Wrigley Field enough and I do not care if I ever see it again. (In fact it has been two years since I last went to Wrigley Field.) Why?
1. The difficulty in getting to the park and getting home is a huge problem for me.
2. The parking is terrible, thus making the best option public transportation. This is not inexpensive and it takes me nearly three hours from my home to get to a game and three more to get back home.
3. Everything is terribly over-priced. The food is terrible and the seats are awful. The team’s payroll is one of the biggest in baseball thus the prices for everything are high.
4. The restrooms are small, crowded, dirty and stink!
5. The walkways are dark and poorly lighted.
6. The place is nearly a century old and has had only a few cosmetic changes over the last fifty years. It was even threatened with a shut down a few years ago.
7. The ushers are rude, the fans are hostile if you are not a Cubs fan and the front office treats you like you are lucky to just be there!
No, I do not like Wrigley Field. In fact, I hate Wrigley Field. Call me a baseball heretic if you will.
But, and I mean this sincerely, if I was a Cubs fan I would like Wrigley Field even less. Why you ask? Because the Cubs will never win as they could and should so long as they play in this park. Why?
1. Wrigley has a strict night-game limit (because of the neighborhood) which ultimately hurts the home team over the long course of the 162-game modern season.
2. The winds changes from hour-to-hour, and day-to-day, and this very often hurts the Cubs as much as it helps them.
3. The beautiful ivy covered walls are dangerous and unfriendly. Balls do odd things in Wrigley Field and this doesn’t help the Cubs either.
4. The clubhouses are antiquated, small and not player friendly at all.
The new owners now speak of spending $250 million to renovate the place. But this doesn’t address the core deficiencies of the place at all. One has written that for twice this cost for renovation they could build a new retractable roof stadium like that in nearby Milwaukee and the home-field disadvantages would be reduced.
Yet the fans keep filling the place year-after-year. And the myth prevails. This is the greatest ballpark of them all. I’ve been to the home parks of all thirty major league franchises and I would rate Wrigley as the biggest dump of them all. (Boston is a close second!)
The Cubs have started slowly this year and the fans are not filling the park as they did the last twenty years or more. Maybe someone will finally get the message. Bad food, bad parking, a bad baseball park in general, and a bad team are not good for the Cubs chances of winning.
The truth is that I don’t care what the Cubs do because I would just as soon they not win. And most of their fans seem to love the park more than their team. I can’t say I understand this at all having seen so many wonderful modern parks around the country. The modern game has passed the Chicago Cubs by while they live in their past. The problem is that their past is filled with losing. It has been over a hundred years since they won a World Series. They’ve never won one at Wrigley Field in fact. You’d think fans who adore this team would begin to really clamor for more fan-friendly treatment but the problem is that they truly adore their park. I don’t get it but such is the love and loyalty of Cubbie fans everywhere. The Sox, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks all have new, nice stadiums. And they have all won championships in recent years. The Cubs just keep losing. But fans seem to be OK with that so far. You tell me why this is so. I don’t get it at all. If I was a Cubs fan I would be lobbying the team for a new park and better treatment. The fans are treated like they are lucky to see this team lose and it is not getting any better.