As you may have heard by now, yesterday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs announced a significant change to the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field. In place of that small section of bleachers (the “well” area), there will now be a 75-foot long LED display above the wall, an all-inclusive (food/drink/etc.) seating area for 150 folks, and a new patio area. The changes are all expected to be in place in time for the 2012 season.
As you can see in the conceptual picture (bigger version below), the electronic board is not a jumbotron. Instead, it’s more of an enlarged game data board, which will feature, um, game data. And, naturally, advertisements. It will not affect home runs, and will not feature video replay.
The seating area should look familiar if you’ve ever seen the seats atop the Green Monster at Fenway Park, which seats were added during Theo Epstein’s tenure there. I’m not saying there’s a direct connection there, but the similarity is quite obvious.
Both features – the LED board and the new seating area – I suspect will generate a great deal of additional revenue for the Cubs, and, thus, I approve. I find the proposed board to be unobtrusive, and may even be useful during the game. I love the Old Scoreboard, but between it, and the small electronic screen below it, it’s not easy to follow the statistical side of the game action at Wrigley.
There has been a fair bit of hand-wringing about the change – and a fair bit of grumbling in the crowd when it was announced at CubsCon. But, with the most respect I can muster, the time for being upset about these kinds of changes, designed to maximize the revenue the Cubs can put back into the product on the field, is long past. I’m as sentimental as the next guy, and I openly profess my love for Wrigley Field, but we’re not talking about a disgusting monstrosity that disrupts the overall feel and atmosphere that makes Wrigley special. The change is significant, but, at the same time, modest.
I will be very interested to learn the projected revenue that the board is expected to generate, and the increased take at the gate based on what I expect to be very premium seats. (I get the sense that the idea, by the way, is that they will be used in the way the suites are – i.e., businesses and clients, entertaining, hobnobbers, and the like. I have no beef with this. Teams have to service “high dollar” customers, and this is a part of how the Cubs will do it. Just part of the business.)
Here’s a little more info from Cubs.com, and here’s a larger picture of the plans: