The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

R.I.P. Nostalgia, 1914-2014

with 4 comments

News broke last week that the owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family, are moving forward with a $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field that will bring a 6,000 square foot scoreboard and another 1,000 square foot video screen to the field–plus a hotel, plaza, and office building to Wrigleyville.  It’s not going to cost the taxpayers anything, allegedly.  I can hear the Wrigley Field purists crying foul, and if I listen closely enough I can hear pens scratching legal documents as the rooftop owners across from Wrigley initiate the process of slowing down progress for the sake of profits.

This is ridiculous, really, on many fronts.  As many people have pointed out, the Ricketts announced that these renovations will bring enough money for the Cubs to put together a World Series-winning team.  The problem with that thinking is that the Cubs have never wanted for money.  To push that idea is to be ignorant to the financial history of the club and ignore the ongoing cycle of poor decisions the franchise has made.

There are better arguments to be made for the renovations.  The best one I can think of is that it will cost $500M to kill nostalgia.  The new billboard and video screen are going to in some way interfere with the rooftop views, and the rooftops are one of the unique draws of Wrigley.  They’re fun, too–been on one 4-5 times and had more than my share of fun while enjoying the game.  I can’t see how the additions won’t interfere with the rooftops since the new billboard will be 3x larger than the current billboard in center field.  The construction of new buildings and a new common area around the park is going to mean that some existing buildings are going to bite the dust.  Those buildings could be bars.  They could be apartment houses.  It doesn’t matter to me.  What matters to me is that the Ricketts drive a stake into the heart of nostalgia at all costs because it’s nostalgia far more than poor decisions or a supposed lack of funding that continues to kill the Cubs.

The Wrigleyville neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the park is a joke.  It’s little more than a destination for the post-college population that is not ready to let go of the fraternity or sorority lifestyle yet, and will pay 5-6 times more to preserve it than they paid on campus.  Game day at Wrigley is a social event that starts around noon and continues until 3am.  Far too many people who go to the game go to get hammered and be seen.  To my way of thinking, the best testament to this is how the art of scalping has evolved around the field.  It’s virtually impossible to scalp some good tickets anymore because the scalpers know they can hold their tickets for a 50-100% markup for the drunk legions to buy up to and after game time.  The only thing that matters is getting into the game and being seen there.  After the final out, the priority becomes staggering into The Cubby Bear or Murphy’s Bleachers or Goose Island or Sluggers and continuing the rowdiness until your pockets are empty or the places close down.

The unfortunate consequence of this is that the local fan base is constantly shifting and renewing itself.  The cycle of 23-30 year olds is never ending.  They also don’t expect anything of the team.  Who cares if they win or lose?  I saw Ronnie Woo-Woo in the bleachers, heard Russell Crowe sing the 7th inning stretch, drank 8 Old Styles, and got 3 phone numbers.  What’s more, we’re going to do it all again tomorrow and next week and next month.  The Cubs will constantly sell the tickets because of the social cachet of the game, not because of its quality.  Need more evidence?  The Cubs are the team that kept Ron Santo on the payroll for far too long.  But what the hell–gotta love ol’Ronnie.  Who cares if he’s incoherent, a laughing stock to even his broadcast booth mates, and does his research live on the air.  The fan base loved him because he was a touchstone to the past–a past that included the most epic collapse in the history of baseball.  Even Harry Caray himself did a lot to promote the overly casual approach to Cubs games and the idea that it’s all about getting wasted

So I say move forward, Ricketts.  Pound that stake into the heart of nostalgia.  Renovate, innovate, mandate, and don’t hesitate.  I’d rather see consistent quality baseball than the Illinois State University chapter of Lambda Chi puking in the bleachers.  Fate itself is cooperating–  Ron Santo passed away just a year into your ownership and possibly spared you the public relations nightmare that would have resulted had you decided it was time to turn off his microphone.  Maybe Ronnie had the best interest of the Cubs in mind and took the flag of nostalgia with him to the ever after.  Regardless, if you change the physical space of Wrigleyville, maybe you can change the demographics.  Change the demographics, and you’ll refine the fan base.  Refine the fan base, and you might have a lot of people at the ballpark that start expecting things of you and who will stop smirking and proclaiming “Next Year!” halfway through each summer.  Then you’ll have no choice but to field a quality team year in and year out.

Written by seeker70

April 26, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. […] to the baseball gods:  ”What have they done to my beloved franchise?!”  As if the overhaul of the Wrigley Field grounds and surrounding areas isn’t enough, now they’ve gone too far.  Now they’re relying on soft-peddling […]

  2. […] staying sober, the Cubs need a new peer group.  I’ve mentioned that before in posts about the death of nostalgia at Wrigley Field and attempts to make the stadium more fan-friendly.  I’m glad to see the Cubs making the […]

  3. […] about it up until about two years ago.  I’ve written about both these ideas in the past (here and here), but here I am considering both of them again.  It feels awkward, but come this […]

  4. […] to fight the fan base and slay the horrible nostalgia dragon, which I’ve written about before herein.  They accomplished that, though, and having the right players and the mostly right manager helped […]

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