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Is Wrigley Ready for Progress?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 13, 2006 5:12PM

2006_06_sports_wrigley_scoreboard.jpgDoes Wrigley Field need to join the 21st, err even the 20th, Century? Or is it fine just the way it is? Some think that the park's landmark scoreboard needs to be replaced with one featuring a Diamond Vision screen.

Chicagoist clearly doesn't spend as much time drinking in the Wrigley Field bleachers as Tribune reporters do, because that's the only logical explanation for the Trib's Eric Benderoff's proposal. He suggests that, while the ivy can stay, the scoreboard needs to go. Might as well take the ivy and bleachers, too, if the scoreboard goes.

He justifies his postion as such:

It is time for a scoreboard where you don't have to add up the runs to figure out the score, where the score of every major-league game can be displayed, and where you don't need to buy a scorecard to know who's pitching in an out-of-town game. And it certainly would be nice to see a replay of a great play, just once, without straining to catch a glimpse of the TV screen in some bigwig's luxury suite.

We'll translate what he means:

Because I'm a journalist, I have bad math skills and don't like having to ask others what the score is. I don't know my team's roster, so I don't know who's playing without being told or buying a scorecard. I'm too busy post-game partying to watch the highlights on SportsCenter. And I'd really like more of those sausage/pizza/donut races!

Just like the daytime starts, the foul territory bullpens, the backless bleacher seats and the trough urinals, the manual scoreboard is part of Wrigley's shabby-chic charm. And with the park being the true draw, not the team, messing with it too much could be a huge mistake for the Cubs.

Not that the Cubs are completely foresaking technology at Wrigley. They will unveil new wireless communications between the dugout and the bullpens on Tuesday. The Motorola phones with push-to-talk will allow Dusty Baker to contact bullpen coach Juan Lopez via a phone he'll wear on his belt. Of couse, with the Cubs bullpen just past the dugout along the 3rd base line, Chicagoist doesn't understand why Dusty can't just yell down to Lopez. Or use one of those tin can phones with the string....

Perhaps the time is right to discuss the idea of replacing Wrigley Field. With city leaders trying to determine how to build a stadium that would allow Chicago to bid for the 2016 Olympics, maybe they could justify it by building the next Wrigley Field. We lived in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, and what they did there was to build a stadium large enough for the opening/closing ceremonies and track & field, yet that could be partially dismantled and reduced in size to become Turner Field once the games were over.

Sure, Wrigley's probably got a few good years left in her. But we'd realistically be looking to the 2018 season for a new park under such a plan. Wrigley will be over 100 years old by then, and who knows how much more concrete will have been shed by then. We realize that the toughest sell for such a plan is the lack of space at the current Clark & Addison location. Could the Cubs play anywhere else? But maybe such a plan still ought to be given some very serious consideration. After all, they last won a World Series when their home park was on the West Side.