Today, while appearing on the Score, Peter Gammons tore into the Chicago Cubs’ problems through the lens of relatively new owners, the Ricketts Family. In doing so, he also shredded the real estate they purchased: Wrigley Field.
“The problem that [Ricketts] has, and the Ricketts family has a serious issue, is they’re going to have to understand it’s not only rebuilding personnel,” Gammons said Friday on “The Mully and Hanley Show” on WSCR-AM 670. “They got to make that ballpark livable, it’s a dump, Wrigley Field. They’re going to have to spend $200-and-something million on re-renovating Wrigley Field, do what the Boston owners did with Fenway Park. And the investment is far greater than, I think, maybe they realize. That the amount of work that Wrigley Field needs is, there’s a ton of money that has to go into rebuilding that place.”
Gammons went on to explain that the upcoming costs are only exacerbated by the money the team has on remaining contracts.
“So they’ve got it on both ways. You know, they have to figure out: ‘OK, we’re assuming unmovable contracts in Soriano, [Carlos] Zambrano, a couple of other guys, and we need to invest somewhere between $100 and $250 million in the ballpark.’ And that’s a lot of investment … The Cubs are a gold mine and they are one of the three or four national teams, but at the same time, they require a lot of work.”
I think the way Gammons chose to describe Wrigley is a bit over the top (and you have to wonder how much of his opinion is tainted by his Boston, Fenway-loving roots), but his points, of course, underscore the importance of finding city and state sources of funding for the Wrigley Field revamp. Gammons is ultimately correct that the revamp is necessary. The Ricketts’ have the money to do it themselves if they were truly compelled to do so, but, especially with a planned $200 million investment in the Triangle Building project pending, it seems perfectly reasonable for the Ricketts to expect some kind of aid with respect to a landmark that brings in millions of tourist dollars to the city and state.
Gammons’ comments are appropriately timed, and perhaps spurred on by the recent Grantland article by Dave Eggers, in which he extols the virtues of Wrigley Field (which, he says, keeps fans interested, regardless of the product on the field). About Wrigley, itself, Eggers is right on, even if the rest of his message is a thinly-veiled slap in the faces of Cubs fans who understand and appreciate the game being played on the field.
Wrigley Field is wonderful. It needs some fixes and modernization, to be sure. But it’s a Mecca to Cubs fans for a reason.