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I know that headline reads incredibly incendiarily, but it’s also a direct quote.

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.

  • Michigan Goat

    Damn those journalist are in full force, it really makes the Cub parent in all of us want to protect our little baby Wrigley.

    • Ace

      You aren’t kidding. I didn’t care for Eggers’ piece, but I certainly don’t want anyone calling Wrigley a dump.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    I wonder about Gammons sometimes. It seems as though his age might be getting the best of his mind.

  • ron

    Gammons is about the only guy left that remembers when Wrigley was considered modern.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Good point! If and when Wrigley Field undergoes renovation, and where ever the funding comes from, I’d like to see it in this order. 1. Making sure the structure is safe. 2. Better facilities for the Cub players and staff. To hell with the visitors. 3. Amenities for the fans.

    • http://BleacherNation Bric

      It’s true, he still refers to it as Weeghman Park by mistake sometimes. When Mordecai Brown lost his two fingers I think it was Gammons who gave him a ride to the hospital on his wagon.

      • Ace

        Ha.

  • http://Prime99.blogspot.com Prime 99

    I LOVE Wrigley, but there is something to be said about putting money in for renovation. I don’t think Gammons is spewing blasphemy, rather he is bluntly stating hard truths about what the Ricketts family needs to spend money on.

    • Ace

      Like I said in the post, I agree with his ultimate point – it’s going to be expensive to renovate Wrigley, but it needs to be done.

      I don’t, however, agree with glibly calling one of the most important landmarks in sports a “dump.”

      • Michigan Goat

        Agreed, money needs to be spent but the priority needs to be upgrading player facilities (training, locker, etc), its been discussed or years that one of the speedbumps to WS victory is the lack of modern player facilities and the wear and tear that puts on players. I’ve always thought it has to be tough on our bullpen to sit in the sun every game with the crowd right there to haggle, and Some high schools have nicer locker and training facilities than Wrigley. So please focus on the Triangle building, upgrade player facilities, then focus on the upgrades to Wrigley for fan convienance. Does anyone know what the Triangle building is suppose to have in means of player facilities.

  • pfk

    Calling it a “dump” is a bit much and hurts me because I love Wrigley – but that’s not the point. The point he makes is spot on…that Ricketts is going to have find $200-$300M – and that’s just for the ballpark and T-Building. Plus, he has a bloated payroll but to contend they have to accept that they need to spend $130M to $160M a year on payroll. The good news is, the Cubs are woefully under marketed. There is still plenty of revenue to be found. They’ll get it in Mesa at the new mixed use project, the new T-Bldg, enhanced skyboxes, taking over the rooftop bleachers, more signage, naming rights (Yes and it doesn’t bother me. After all Wrigley was actually, at one time, in effect, a naming right. So, if it’s United Airlines’ Wrigley Field, I could care less), more events at Wrigley, on and on. Done right, this could be one hell of a winning franchise with an even better fan experience. Boston did it. So can we.

    • Michigan Goat

      Oh please don’t pimp the naming right, I’d rather pay more in tickets before I want it to be named something like United Airline Wrigley Field. Ouch

      • Lokanna

        Agreed. Please don’t change the name. If you’re selling naming rights, implode the stadium and build something new.

        This is Wrigley Field… nothing else like it.

  • andy hickey

    I am for building a new park in the Burbs with parking etc, but still playing weekend home series at Wrigley.

    The Cubs need to play at night like everyone else

  • Lokanna

    Headline:

    Peter Gammons is a Dump!

    Story:

    On a local radio broadcast program in Peter’s hometown, Cubs faithful were interviewed and asked about his storied career. Cubs faithful were very pleased with the contributions Mr. Gammons has made throughout his time covering our favorite summer game, however, they commented on his aging demeanor. When asking about Mr. Gammons current views on the most sacred ground known as Wrigley Field, Cubs faithful wondered allowed if perhaps Mr. Gammons himself were in fact, a dump! He’s old, starting to wear down, people don’t visit him as much as they might have during the prime of his career, his wardrob is aged and due for some major renovations, and let’s face it, his analysis isn’t as valued as it once was (moving from ESPN to MLB Network, where he mainly chimes in from his home in CT).

    Cubs faithful are quick to point out that they’re merely looking through the eyes of the new Baseball fan. Perhaps Mr. Gammons might change his view on such a magnificant venue such as The Friendly Confines if his glasses were renovated as well. (END)

    Look, no one is denying that Wrigley could use a facelift. But even die-hard faithful Red Sox fans (which I know far to many of!) appreciate Wrigley as much as Fenway for all the right reasons. The history is there, the atmosphere is amazing, and it’s a fun place to catch an afternoon game. It’s kind of sad to see someone as respected as Peter Gammons bag on a field that has transcended the game of baseball throughout history. Someone as passionate about the game as him should at least recognize it’s a special place. People I know who don’t follow baseball know of places like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Someone should perhaps teach Peter that you should respect your elders.

    • Ace

      Ouch – that’s cold, Lok. Made me chuckle, though.

      • Lokanna

        It’s along the same lines as what he’s talking about. Zero regard for something the fans hold dear due to his personal viewpoints. The same could be said about what I read.

        Look, there’s no denying his contributions to the game as a well respected sports writer. However, he shouldn’t be able to throw stones and get by in a glass house without any return fire.

        Glad you got a chuckle out of it as it was meant as satire. I have no issue with Peter as I’ve never met the man. But I do take issue with his view of Wrigley Field.

  • ME1963

    I’m not sure how Gammons even became a baseball spokesman…somebody tell me?

    • EQ

      All Gammons cares about is the Red Sox.. He’s a Boston guy, just like Buck & McCarver kiss the collective the arses of the Cardinals and ESPN thinks that the only two teams on the planet are the Yanks and Red Sox, Gammons lusts for Boston..

      • miggy80

        It was awesome when the crowd started chanting “Joe Buck Sucks!” When fox did the saturday San Fran game

  • Michigan Goat

    I wonder how much of his comments are the result of the MLB Network wanting headlines and press. I’ve noticed recently that both the TV and Radio channels are more aggressive and controversial lately. Sadly they are becoming more ESPN like which is very annoying, and can someone please tell Dan Plesac to stop trying so hard. It’s either that or Gammons has reached “get off my lawn” “damn whipper snapper” mindset.

  • Jeff

    The fact that Wrigley needs gutted, and renovated, and it’s structure re-enforced is nothing new to anyone who has either been there or follows the team closely. This is nothing new, and it just seems he’s looking for a reason to make more waves around the poor state of the franchise right now.

    As far as the money goes, the Ricketts family couldn’t have bought the team without knowing what kind of work and money Wrigley needs, there were pieces of concrete falling on fans a few years ago, they didn’t think all that just went away when they bought the team. The thing that worries me is that they immediately asked the city for the money, and I am afraid that the plan all along for them was to get the city of Chicago to pay for the repairs. I don’t know if these guys are prepared to lose the money up front that it’s going to take to get the renovations done and keep the team (somewhat) competetive.

    • VanSlaw

      Jeff, do you hail from central/southern Ohio or thereabouts?

      • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

        No, I grew up in Hammond, Indiana, which is on the Indiana side of the Illinois border. I currently live a little north of Miami.

        • VanSlaw

          Miami, Ohio, or Miami, Florida? I ask because you wrote “needs gutted” without the “to be,” and I hadn’t confronted that regional idiomatic expression before moving to central Ohio.

  • Ron

    I think investing in better facilities could actually reduce payroll because players would be more willing to play there.

    • jstraw

      No player is going to take one penny less to play where there’s a better clubhouse and nice batting cages.

  • Cubfan_keston

    Peter Gammons can go F*ck himself. You dont hear players complaining about the friendly confines, so why should he. Of course the stadium needs to be safe for fans and players alike, but thats it with the renovations. You go to Wrigley to watch a baseball game, stop making these stadiums friggin Six Flags. And whoever suggested changing the name of Wrigley Field can also go fu*k themself. Finally, if they pump $200 mil into Wrigley all that means is that ticket prices will go up to cover the cost. Dont be so naive to think that any owner will shell out money for anything….its a business and the goal is to make money. They might front the money, but they will get it all back and a lot more. The focus of the Cubs should be the product on the field not the field itself.
    Sincerely,
    the left field ivy

    • EQ

      Jeff Gordon thinks we should start calling it “Wrigley Stadium”

      • Ace

        Take me out to the ballpark…

    • Ace

      Ah, but how does the right field ivy feel?

      • pfk

        Right Field Ivy is scary stuff dude. Don’t go near it.

        • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

          I think Domingo Ramos might still be lost in the right field ivy somewhere.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            All he needs to do is lift up the bill of his hat a bit…

  • chris

    For the record since it’s topic of conversation today…i grew up a hour ten minutes south of St. Louis and now reside in western nebraska.

    • Ace

      How did you end up a Cubs fan?

      • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

        That’s what I want to know. We don’t get many St. Louis guys coming to the “right side of the rivalry”, but I welcome all comers.

        Finally took the time to figure out Gravatar after all this time, woo hoo for Friday afternoons at work with nothing to do but read Bleacher Nation!!!!

      • hardtop

        cable. piping futile cubs teams into homes across america since, what? 1978?

    • Cardfan

      Traitor.
      I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, though, as there are nothing but Walmarts and meth labs an hour and 10 minutes south of St. Louis. Either could have had a negative impact on your ability to discern good from evil.

      Consider that tongue-in-cheek, as I have property an hour and eleven minutes south of St. Louis…

  • hardtop

    what am i missing? i was just there: its was fine. i had a seat and it wasnt poking me. i could see the field clearly. i was not distracted by flashing lights, kiss-cams, or justin beeber dace party blaring throughout the park between batters. most importantly, my beer and my food, were brought to my seat!! i think my seat even had a cup holder! I went to the bathroom, there was no line, it didnt stink like the old days, and i was able to relieve myself. again, what am i missing? what more could you want as far as amenities? what is this awesome experience I am missing? bathroom attaendants with mints and cologne? bigger tv’s in the line for pizza? electric beer cooler installed in the seats (thats actually a good one)

    people come to wrigley, lots of people, just how it is. they do so despite the team playing on the field. even with attendance down, it has had very good attendance for a long time. obviously, the lack of ammenities dosn’t stop the average cub fanatic, the trust-fund party people, the baseball historians, or the windy city tourists from paying their way into the friendly confines. make it safe and you’re done. save the money on the snake skin seat cushions and charge less for tickets! Put a good team on the field, and they will come. shit, i’d sit 9 innings naked on a george foreman grill if i were watching a world series game (i’d sit on a bed of nails for an NLCS appearance).

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

      I agree with you, and I absolutely love going to Wrigley for games. The upgrades, scoreboards, shops, and restaurants, I could give a crap less about. There are structural and strategical issues with the ballpark though. There definitely needs to be better parking available for games, the player facilities need upgrades, but the main thing is making sure the old ballpark is still standing for games. Casual observers might not notice, but there are cracks in the original structure of the park and there have been parts falling off of the stadium. I don’t care about the game day amenities and there is no need to improve the game day experience at Wrigley other than the team’s performance, but there are things wrong with Wrigley that will make it unsafe and unfit if they go unfixed and ignored for too much longer. Also, I don’t really mind taking a leak in the trough, it’s kind of like a right of passage for all male Cubs fans.

      • hardtop

        “Also, I don’t really mind taking a leak in the trough, it’s kind of like a right of passage for all male Cubs fans.”

        Yep. It kind of pains me that my only child, my daughter, won’t be able to conquer this challenge in her journey to true fanaticism.

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          Is that horrible, horrible video of the guy slip-n-sliding in the trough still on YouTube? I can’t bear to search for it.

  • jstraw

    Wrigley provides a great baseball experience. It’s just not what constitutes the standard, contemporary baseball experience. The biggest renovation Wrigley needs is better baseball on the playing field. That said, I cannot imagine that Ricketts will build the Triangle and not renovate the ballpark.

  • pfk

    Those who say “forget the Triangle Building” and “just pay for good players” know nothing about the business aspect of baseball. They want to pay top dollar for talent but don’t want the owners to have more revenue streams to afford it. And, you don’t have to make it Six Flags. It can be done tastefully and, gee, wouldn’t it be nice if the players actually had a locker room and how about a batting cage to get warmed up in the late innings. Those are things you don’t see but they make a difference – just like more night games would. Those who don’t want improvement are the same dumb asses that fought putting lights in, “So we could be different and charming like the old days.” Screw that thinking. We finally got freaking lights but still have way too many day games. “Oh, but it is so nice and retro to be the only team playing day games.” I’m tired of that crap. Get real people. You want a winner, then get into the 21st century. The world didn’t collapse when lights were put in and it didn’t lose its charm. I love Wrigley, its a shrine. And it can remain so and still have the improvements.

    • hardtop

      Good points. I’m certainly not against the triangle building and improved player facilities. Of course, I’m not a currently a Chicago tax payer either. But, and I’m honestly curious here, not trying to be argumentative, what improvements to wrigley itself actually generate revenue for the owner? as far as revenue streams, I think of advertisments. And advertisments are obvioulsy not an improvemnt to the field or to the fans experience of the park. or are you saying they will sell more seats if the ballpark is improved regardless of the product on the field, and therefore generate more revenue without an investment in the organization?

      • pfk

        The revenue streams will come from the leases and triple net revenue sharing on the ground level retail stores, bars and restaurants. it will come from admission tickets to the Cubs museum. It will come from parking spaces. Plus, it will allow them to have a state of the art locker room, training facility, batting cages and offices. At the end of the day, the product on the field sells tickets but Wrigley does have a tourist aspect to it and if there is more to see and do pre-game and post-game, more fans will come. The main reason is to raise revenue to put back into the team and organization…minor leagues, scouting, draft signings, free agents, etc. Ricketts has already shown a willingness to invest in the organization with things like the new facility in Mesa, more money for singing draft choices, more money to hire scouts and improving both the Latin and Asian scouting. Building a champion takes a lot more than just a free agent signing. Its paying attention to and investing in all the little details. And to do that takes money and things like the T-Bldg can generate serious money to pay for all this.

        • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

          Well said. Not to mention all the money people will spend in the stores, bars, and restaurants in the surrounding areas, and then there are the taxes on everything and everyone that comes to a game and spends money in the neighborhood. I think Ricketts is doing a good job so far, I just don’t know how far he’s willing to go without money coming from the city to help out.

          • Ace

            I think they’ve already pretty much decided that, if they don’t get some help on Wrigley, they’re not going all in on the Triangle project.

  • pfk

    As wonderful as Wrigley is (and it is wonderful) people need to realize that it has been constantly changing since it was built in 1914. When it opened the seating was 14,000 to 20,000. The upper deck wasn’t built until 1927. The ivy didn’t appear until 1937. Lights didn’t come until 1988. The main entry marquee went up in 1934 and was blue (not red) until the 1960’s. The scoreboard was extensively rehabilitated in 2010. Th electronic message board came in 1982. Recently the center field restaurant was added, Toyota sign, Under Amor signs, the CBOE boxes. It is constantly changing but it has never lost its charm or the take-your-breath-away feeling when you walk into grandstand or boxes thru the tunnel. We can improve it and increase revenue streams without ruining it.

  • MichiganGoat

    Great points, PFK. I love to show people pictures of how the walls were once covered in billboards before the Ivy to put things in perspective. I agree there are many things that can be added/enhanced with the Triangle bldg being a great first start. I think with the right plan Ricketts can increase the revenue and maintain the nostalgia, and the park will require a major and expensive structural overhaul in order for it be around when my kids have kids. I’m putting a lot of faith in Ricketts to do Wrigley right and put the right leaders in place to take us to the promise land.

  • CUB5

    It is a dump. Let’s be honest. Sure it has a lot of nostalgia for us Cubs fans, but it’s no Fenway. Wrigley is beset by a ton of problems, the least of which is Wrigleyville. If they truly want to compete, then they need to build a modern ballpark with modern amenities that will allow the Cubs to properly train/compete. Get rid of the day games too. I think this would also get rid of the fans that just want to get sloshed at the game without ever witnessing an inning. Good riddance.

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

      Anyone who attends day games regularly knows how much those games mean to the fans. I had season tickets the last 4 years that I lived in the area and went to every day game they played. There were more dedicated fans at the day games than there ever is at night. You don’t get talks with the guy that’s been to every day game in the last 40 years and kept score for every one of them at other parks. The kids that take field trips or skip school, the office workers and blue collar guys who skip work to enjoy the afternoon, they are there for the team and to enjoy baseball. The positives of the stadium and the great people I’ve met there over the years, far outweighs the couple of obnoxious drunks and having to pee in the trough. Suggesting to tear down something that is so dear to all true Cubs fans as well as the great city of Chicago is unthinkable. Where do you propose they build this new stadium anyway, Schaumberg? Joliet? Those were the kind of places I’ve always heard that are available for new parks in the Chicago area.

      • CUB5

        I don’t have a good place as it would have to move out of that area. But my position is if it puts my team at a disadvantage, then it should be dealt with. What would you rather have? A nostalgic ballpark and shitty team or a modern ballpark with the facilities to help your team be great? Seems more people want the ‘atmosphere’ than to see the Cubs win a WS.

  • Robbo

    CUB5:
    You say Wrigley “is a dump” and “it’s no Fenway”?
    Feel free to change your alias to “SOX5″
    No real Cubs fan would spout that kind of blasphamy.

    • CUB5

      Wouldn’t dare change my team, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are hamstrung in making the park better by the neighborhoods surrounding them who just want more rooftops and money. The park doesn’t make the team IMO.

  • DarrellB

    While Wrigley Field could benefit be huge renovations, calling it a dump is just silly. Any who is honest and has been coming to Wrigley since the 60’s should be able to admit that Wrigley is a nicer fan experience now than it was years ago.
    Over the years they have added more and better seating… and they added many other amenities. No one would argue than tearing down the old bleacher section and building all new bleacher sections with more seating, more restrooms, concessions and handicapped seating was not a massive improvement.
    The players would certainly agree that completely rebuilding the playing field but dropping the entire field, installing a state of the art drainage system and making the field totally flat instead of the old crowned field is a vast improvement.
    With all of the renovations I would love to see at Wrigley, it is still a better place to watch a game than it ever was.
    As for Gammons claims that the Ricketts family has no idea that it would take $200 for the needed renovations… why does he think the Ricketts family presented a renovation plan they said would cost $200 million?
    Before Fenway had it’s recent major renovations, Fenway was not nearly as nice as Wrigley because of such limited seating with small seats. Gammons would have never called Fenway a dump back then, but now that they’ve made a huge renovation to Fenway, he takes a shot at Wrigley.

    • et

      Actually, DarrellB, Gammons DID call Fenway a ‘dump’ back in 2000 when the previous ownership of the Red Sox were lobbying for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for a ‘new’ Fenway. The issue here is Wrigley’s future, not Mr. Gammons, but indeed, while Cubs fans may believe that he’s ‘taking a shot at Wrigley’ he did nothing publicly to try to save Fenway back then. The fans [and new owners] saved Fenway. Cubs fans, speak up! http://espn.go.com/gammons/s/0923notes.html

  • So Cal Jack

    Hell no to using so much as even one thin dime of public money on Ricketts private property (Wrigley Field)! NOT EVEN ONE THIN DIME!

    If either the State of Illinois and/or the City of Chicago provide even a nickel of public funding assistance to rehab Wrigley Field, then every homeowner in the state of Illinois should also be entitled to having their state to provide monies for any needed home improvements that they may need too!

    The new owner of the Cubs is Tom Ricketts, which rhymes with “we ain’t selling many tickets”! In addition, why should the taxpayers be expected to foot the bill for a private businesses mis-management? It wasn’t the public you know that had any say in all of the bad and very expensive long term contracts that the Cubs freely gave out you know!

  • Ace

    People don’t come to Chicago and spend money on food/lodging/etc. to see other people’s houses. They do, however, do so to come to Wrigley. That’s the difference.

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  • Borch

    The only thing older and more decrepit tham Wrigley Field is Peter Gammons…..I’ll take Wrigley.

  • Ronnie Woo

    Unfortunately Peter is right. All that wooing you hear me doing all the time has more to do with the stench at that ugly dump than anything else.

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