Wrigley is Changing More Than the Roster

It seems appropriate that Rob G. would ask me to guest post for him in his absence about improvements to the ballpark.  If you have read anything of mine at Tales from Aisle 424, you know I am a season ticket holder there since the 1998 season, so I tend to mention the ballpark, its facilities, and the Cubs' staff more than most Cubs blogs. 

This year, there is quite a bit of change happening in the old ballpark.

The aspect that has gotten the most press is, of course, the bathrooms.  Basically, the bathrooms on the concourse level will get noticeably larger for the ladies, and slightly larger for the men.  The troughs will remain and they will all get a good cleaning.

The most interesting thing about this part of the changes is the reaction to it.  Some people seem to love the troughs as a "Wrigley tradition" more than anyone should have feelings for a bathroom fixture.  Other people hate the troughs more than Hitler.  I'm pretty confident in my heterosexuality and am big on spending the least amount of time in the bathroom when I have paid more the $60 to be in the ballpark, so I come down on the pro-troughs side simple for efficiency, but I wouldn't cry if they ever went away.  HINT: If your problem with troughs is the stage fright, try computing complicated math problems in your head as you try to go.  I don't know why, but it works.

As for me, of all the changes that can be seen outlined by Paul Sullivan here and Dave Kaplan here, there are two in particular that interest me as a season ticket holder that attends more than 40 games per year in that ballpark.

First. the new PNC Club of Chicago is interesting to me because I have long been concerned about the possibility of PSLs coming into play at Wrigley, and this could seem to be a step in that direction.  They have converted a number of the individual skyboxes on the left field side into a fancy club that I will almost assuredly never see unless I take a tour of Wrigley on a non-game day. Over at Aisle 424, I did a post about the various PSL plans that are currently in place in the major leagues and what I found was that the only PSL plans in place were begun when the teams went to new ballparks.  Also, the PSLs were sold more as club memberships that entitle the owners to perks above and beyond what "regular" season ticket holders would get in their plans.

However, despite the opening of the PNC Club, I tend to believe Crane Kenney when he says that PSLs are not coming to Wrigley anytime soon.  For one, the Cubs seem to be following the model of the Red Sox in maximizing the revenue streams in an old ballpark and the Red Sox do not have a PSL plan.  Also, the Mets and Yankees don't have PSLs in their new high-end ballparks, so clearly there is a model for bringing in the dollars without having to take a PR hit by introducing PSLs to Wrigley.

Secondly, the biggest change, in my opinion, is not a physical change, but a change in how the operations in the ballpark will become more fan friendly (in theory).  The Cubs hired Jahaan Blake (who worked in the Red Sox organization at one point) as a Chief Hospitality Officer and has been tasked with making sure the Cubs' flowery words in the marketing promotions translates into the actual experience when fans attend a game. 

This is part of the Ricketts' overall vision of Disneying up the ballpark so that fans won't notice or care as much that the prices are getting really, really high.  According to Crane Kenney in an interview with Bleed Cubbie Blue, there will be an army of Game Ambassadors that will be evaluating every aspect of the fan experience at Wrigley:

"They will be riding the remote bus from DeVry. They’ll be riding the El from downtown. They’ll be secret shopping our food seeing whether is the hot dog warm, is the beer cold. They’ll be monitoring the restrooms. They’ll be basically touching every point where a fan comes into contact with our ballpark even including the remote parking lot. How is the bus traffic from DeVry to the ballpark? Are the bus routes appropriate on game days where it’s a day game versus a night game, day game weekend, week day. Have we done everything we possibly can to make the bike corral work well? To help the pedestrians get from the El platform to the ballpark."

How they respond to the data they recover from these Ambassadors will be key to whether this is simply more Tribune fan-speak or if they are intent on making sure that when I pay $20 for a hot dog, I can be reasonably assured that it will actually be hot.

I'd be satisfied with an occasional thank you from the ticket office and ushers who are good at making sure people who don't know where they are going find the correct seats.  I'm a simple man with simple tastes. 

We'll see how they do once the season starts and the inevitable stupid questions from fans erode their resolve.

Comments

So I thought I had formatted this post so that a "Read more" link would be included, but apparently not. Sorry, Rob, and thanks for asking me to post here.

Thanks for the post. Enjoy your writing at Tales from Aisle 424 and am glad to see you here.

As you noted below, the reader comments following the Trib's coverage of the proposed Toyota sign are classic.

Here is just one of my faves:

"Come on! Be original! Every park has a giant illuminated sign. How about erecting a 74 foot tall Vienna Sausage over the right field bleachers?"

The most interesting thing about this part of the changes is the reaction to it. Some people seem to love the troughs as a "Wrigley tradition" more than anyone should have feelings for a bathroom fixture.

Depends on if you are, shall we say, self-conscious as I am. At some point I'll probably get a big sports car to compensate.

The troughs are non-literally the only good thing about Wrigley. Wait, maybe literally, because Wrigley pretty much sucks, literally.

Literally or figuratively? If literally, please explain how this occurs.

Apparently, you've never experienced the Wrigley glory holes?

Suddenly, I feel dirty...

suddenly i feel aroused.

Now you know why Ron always takes so many breaks during the game.

Oh, Dear God.

Yes?

Hey Trans!!!

Hey, Jacos!

I'm proud to be the one who awoke the Trans.

~takes a bow

I was so hoping that you'd be the one I woke up to, this beautiful Spring morning.

"They’ll be monitoring the restrooms. They’ll be basically touching every point where a fan comes into contact with our ballpark..."

Hazard pay?

I'm uncomfortable with any sentence that includes the words "restrooms" and "touching."

"Yet Kenney insisted that blocking a competing sign is not the point of the location of the proposed billboard."


That is total bullshit.  The only reason to put the sign where they are planning on putting it is to block the Horseshoe sign.


The comments are hilarious.  Much angst over an advertisement that will do nothing more than block the advertisement that already exists across the street.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/2...

"I think if Silva's back to throwing in the low 90s, he can be effective and might actually be the Cubs' best No. 5 starter, at least in the short term. If he's still throwin in the high 80s, though, I would choose Marshall or Samardzija."

How do I apply for the job of secret shopper? I'd be willing to test out the comfort of the seats, etc...

Beneath the stands Wrigley has all the ambience of a medieval dungeon, especially during rain delays. Still...

Trough Trick: Hum Elvin Bishop's 'Let it Flow...'

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  • btw...Thanks AZ Phil. I'm really enjoying your take on this trade.

    Cubster 10 min 46 sec ago view
  • I'm a bit disappointed on the Warren experience. Essentially they gave Castro away for crickets (OK, well they signed Zobrist with the Castro salary dump). Otherwise one might look at it as Chapman for Castro and our #1 minors prospect (Torres) + McKinney/Crawford. Seems pricey for a 2 month rental. We will see if this price tag is that steep in a relative way based on the remaining deadline deals for relievers.

    Cubster 11 min 14 sec ago view
  • Yep. One of the great things about this team (in addition to being really good at baseball) was the "likable" factor. Feels a bit different now. Who knows...maybe Chapman will be the king of the dance parties.

    billybucks 20 min 3 sec ago view
  • Here are some possible corresponding minor league moves we might see in the aftermath  of the Chapman trade: 

    SOUTH BEND to MYRTLE BEACH: OF Donnie Dewees and INF Bryant Flete  

    EUGENE to SOUTH BEND: OF Robert Garcia and INF Vimael Machin 

    There is really no reason to replace Billy McKinney at Tennessee because both Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler are doing their rehab at Tennessee.  

    And there are plenty of pitchers at Iowa. No need to replace Warren at AAA. .  

    Arizona Phil 40 min 13 sec ago view
  • I am 70 years old. The Cubs last played in the World Series in 1945. I was born in 1946. I hate to lose a prospect like Torres, but when the opportunity is there to get that World Series ring, you go for it. This was the idea in stock piling all this young talent. I would like to see Reddick added now and the Cubbies should be done.

    Hagsag 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • I would expect Richard to accept an optional assignment because based on how he's played this season, there is a decent chance that he won't find work elsewhere. Rather stay and potentially get a ring. Same goes for Coghlan since he's struggled mightily this year.

    Edwards should not go down. He's pitched very well and Maddon is very impressed with him. I would expect Grimm to go down for Cahill so he can get back on track (he's pitched better in July, but he's not getting enough appearances).

    chitownmvp01 1 hour 14 min ago view
  • chitownmvp01: Indeed Clayton Richard would seem to be odd man out once Chapman reports, but Richard might accept a minor league assignment if he is promised a return to Chicago on 9/1 when MLB Active List rosters expand (Richard has minor league ioptions left).

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 17 min ago view
  • The only player in the deal that would cause me a second thought is Gleyber Torres.

    McKinney and Crawford are decent prospects but both are redundant/replaceable in the system and Warren was really only a middle-reliever or #6 starter, so to me it's really just Torres for Chapman.

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 37 min ago view
  • There is no Comp pick for players traded mid-season. 2+ months of Chapman is it.

    mbauer 1 hour 39 min ago view
  • to get one of the best you have to give up one/some of your best...but it's a bit painful to watch the system's best prospect walk for any 2-3 month rental, especially one that's not an everyday player.

    crunch 1 hour 42 min ago view
  • I assume Chapman will replace Richard on the roster, but who goes down when Cahill gets activated? Maybe Grimm?

    And when Soler and Coghlan get healthy, how do they fit them on the roster when they're ready to be activated?

    chitownmvp01 1 hour 45 min ago view
  • We are giving up a lot, but it's not like we're trading Addison Russell for 2+ months of Jason Hammel. When impact players become available, they are going to cost you. The other bids could also have been high.

    Having Chapman as a rental is potentially less disruptive than having him come in with an extension in place. 

    CTSteve 1 hour 47 min ago view
  • Billy McKinney had season-ending knee surgery last August and came to Minor League Camp this year somewhat restricted. (He was used mostly as a DH in Cactus League Minor League Camp games), and I'm not sure he's 100% right now (he's repeating AA, and his XBH numbers are way down, like he's not getting good rotation in his lowev half). That might have been part of the reason why the trade wasn't completed right away.

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 54 min ago view
  • Rashad Crawford was a basketball star in HS (he was known as "Baby Jordan", and baseball was only his second sport) and he has plus-speed and athleticism, so when the Cubs drafted him (Keith Lockhart was the scout)  he was seen as a long-term project.  

    I was at Fitch Park the day that Rashad Crawford became a LH hitter, He waa never a switch-hitter, He went directly from being a RH hitter to a LH hitter, which I had never seen before. 

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 2 min ago view
  • I'm with Rob G and Johann here. It's not about Chapman as a pitcher. I just don't want to have to block out a real problem (the domestic violence) in order to try to enjoy the frivolous ball and stick game.

    Charlie 2 hours 10 min ago view
  • ROB G & BOB R: You're right. The QO can only be extended if the player spends the entire previous season with one club, so only the Yankees could have offered one to Chapman (if he wasn't traded). If an Article XX-B FA is traded during the season, the new club can't offer a QO. .

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 11 min ago view