An exceedingly juicy rumor has been making the rounds, the short of which has the Chicago Cubs playing the 2013 season not at Wrigley Field, but on the South Side at the home of the White Sox, U.S. Cellular Field.
The source of the rumor, according to NBC5 in Chicago, is a set of anonymous workers at the Cell, who say they’ve been warned that a “busier than usual” season is coming in 2013. The Cubs – and sources close to the Cubs – immediately denied the rumor.
End of story, right? Sexy, but unlikely rumor gets shot down before it even circulates widely. That’s that.
Maybe for 2013. But is the “Cubs to play a season away from Wrigley Field” story really over?
Let’s be honest: that kind of plan has always been a possibility. Piecemeal, offseason changes at Wrigley offered one approach to updating the ballpark and player facilities in desperately needed ways, but another approach is to really dig in and make significant alterations over the course of a year (it’s a little harder to do massive construction in the din of a Chicago Winter). In that regard, this “rumor” isn’t terribly shocking.
But will it happen? In 2013, probably not. Multiple sources have been quick to poo-poo the possibility, and the Cubs, themselves, have denied the rumor.
In the years thereafter? To my mind, it would be unwise to call it impossible.
Yes, the Cubs have said that they’d prefer to handle renovations during the offseason and on road trips, and, yes, the money for a complete overhaul of Wrigley Field hasn’t even been sourced yet. But who knows how things will play out? Maybe the most cost-effective renovation will be a concise one, taking place over one calendar year. Maybe the substance of the renovations will not allow the Cubs to take a piecemeal approach. Maybe public financing will come with conditions that require the Cubs to complete the renovations within a certain period of time.
It’s possible that, when all is said and done, a year away from Wrigley Field could be the best – if not only – option for the Cubs.
The logistics of playing a season away from your home park are, in a word, onerous. But it’s been done before. And, as for the Cubs’ immediate denials? Well, if the funds haven’t been secured, and plans haven’t been finalized, the Cubs would, of course, act quickly to scuttle any buzz. No sense in risking near-term advertising or season ticket dollars (however small that risk) right now.
I’m not saying this rumor has legs, nor am I saying a season away from Wrigley is the best plan when it comes to fixing the old girl up. Heck, if the Cubs aren’t any good by 2014/2015/2016, Wrigley Field, itself, might be the only thing drawing casual fans to Cubs games. It would be rough to lose an entire season, in that regard.
I’m just saying that we should all keep an open mind.
Who knows: maybe that’s exactly why this rumor popped up. Maybe the Cubs want to see just how open our minds are.