Cubs Outline the Future to Fans At Convention
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 18, 2010 4:40PM
Photo by wallyg
With the Ricketts family finally in charge of the team, fans at the 25th annual Cubs Convention anxiously awaited to hear the new ownership's plans for their beloved team as well as get a preview for the upcoming season from Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella and players in attendance.
The biggest news to come out of the weekend was the plan to upgrade Wrigley Field over the next few years. Changes to improve the locker room will begin immediately while larger projects will continue leading up to Wrigley's 100th anniversary in 2014. The vast majority of the park will be rebuilt and expanded to add more space for amenities of a modern park like wider concourses, more restrooms and expanded concessions. Additionally, the long-planned triangle shaped building will be constructed to the west of the park. Only the bleachers, which were recently rebuilt, will not be reconfigured as part of the rehab.
While much will change at Wrigley, some things won't. When asked about the park's name, President Crane Kenney said, "I can't imagine the ballpark not being called Wrigley Field," while fan polling suggests the "L" flag will continue to fly over the park after team losses, in spite of internal management discussion about discontinuing the tradition. Fans can expect to have their opinions heard by the new management. The Ricketts plan to add a "Chief Hospitality Officer" to listen fan complaints and advice, as well as upgrade the kid-friendly amenities to entice families.
And what about the team on the field? Jim Hendry again issued a mea culpa for ditching Mark DeRosa and the whole Milton Bradley fiasco. Lou Piniella is finally ready to hand over the closer role to Carlos Marmol while he seems somewhat less certain about who'll hit fifth in his lineup, saying he hoped both Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano would bat in that spot. Catcher Geovany Soto looks to bounce back from his sophomore slump, having shed 40 pounds to get himself back into top form.
While Cubs fans are eternally optimistic that maybe it's finally their year, fans expectations were somewhat more subdued at this year's convention. After back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008, the team failed to make the playoffs in '09 and saw division champ St. Louis make some upgrades. Cubs fans were full of hope yet again, even if they didn't quite feel the same certainly of seeing a World Series at Wrigley this year.