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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.

  • BD

    It would be nice to see a full stadium on the South Side. ;-)

  • bgjacks

    it doesn’t bother me that the Cubs would consider playing at US Cellular for a year or two. In my opinion if i owned the Cubs i would build a new stadium in the suburbs. The prestige of Wrigley is a farce in the economics of the Cubs. i would much rather go watch the Cubs play in Milwaukee than go to Wrigley. that being said i don’t live in the city so maybe my sentiment is tainted.

    • Noah

      So what you’re really saying is that your number one priority is having the Cubs be in a stadium that’s more convenient for you personally? A team that has been between mediocre and bad for three years does not draw 3 million fans in each of those years without the draw of a park like Wrigley. Believing that Wrigley has not been a giant boon to the Cubs’ bottom line is either lying to oneself or naivete.

      • Bren

        I think an argument can be made that there are a fair amount of people who show up to Wrigley for the atmosphere and are, at best, ambivalent about the actual team.

        Point being, its false to assume that those same people wouldn’t show up at a new stadium. Hell, they might be more prone to attending a modern, comfortable park. So I think this attachment people have to Wrigley is irrational and unfounded, if people love the team, they’ll show up. The casual fans will show up for the spectacle of a new park, besides the real money is in TV revenue.

      • jerry

        I’m sorry but i don’t think the stadium draws that many people on it’s own. I’ve been a die hard cubs fan for 40 yrs,and i hate wrigley field. Sorry i know that will upset alot of people but i don’t go to too many games there anymore. I for 1 have taken the tour and that place is a mess. I’ve been to all the parks in mlb except the new yankee’s stadium. Wrigley is by far the worst. I go the games the cubs play in milwaukee or st louis. more often then wrigley.. that being said i will never sit in the bleachers again. I had the worst time ever at a ball game sitting out there. Sorry just just what i think.

        • David

          Do you think the obvious bias caused by your dislike of the park affects your conclusion that the stadium isn’t much of a draw on its own? The fact that you don’t like it doesn’t mean most people don’t, or, at least, that a lot of people willing to fork over money for tickets don’t.

        • mark

          yeah, and fenway park doesn’t draw a croud either.

        • Richard Nose

          I’ve been to 10-15 other stadiums, all solid clean and nice. Been to Wrigley for a handful of games. Sat in 1st row of left field bleachers when Sori was a stud, rain delayed Sunday night ESPN game against the Dodgers with a few of my friends. Drenched, shit everywhere. Probably the best day of my life. I live in Omaha, moving CWS from Rosenblatt was tragic. Nostalgic stadiums trump shopping malls all day long.

        • cjdubbya

          Jerry, I don’t have quite the tenure as a die-hard as you (will claim 30 of my 32 years, though I suspect my parents did watch their share of games when I was still in the womb), and I’ll concur that Wrigley has nowhere near the niceties of some of the newer parks. But speaking for my wife, who knows more than her fair share of sports, there’s just something about the ambience of the old park at Clark & Addison. Yeah, there’s not a slide for the silly mascot, or a stupid hill in center field that’s going to ultimately end the career of someone, but Wrigley is indeed a draw (sometimes moreso than the team on the field!).

          I guess that’s why I say that I make my annual pilgrimage to the North Side every year. I go to watch the Cubs, but I also go to enjoy Wrigley Field. Trust me, living in central Ohio, the Reds are less than two hours away, and PNC Park is three hours away, so for convenience’s sake I’d head there. But there’s just something about watching the Cubs at Wrigley.

        • Frank

          You may hate Wrigley, but I know many people who travel from out-of-state to go to a game at Wrigley–they can take the Cubs or leave them–they come for the experience of a game at Wrigley. Granted, the experience may not be a great one compared to some of the newer parks, but they don’t care. And often, it’s absolutely been more of a draw than the team on the field. Do 3 million people show up for the experience of bad baseball? No–that’s why when the Tribune Company took over they sold the casual fan on the experience, not on the team. I understand what you’re saying bgjacks–but not everyone who goes to Wrigley is a Cubs fan. In fact, from what I’ve seen of the crowd, especially during the Tribune years, I’d say the majority aren’t–and I’ve been a Cub fan for about 43 years now.

    • bgjacks

      what i was trying to say is nobody goes to “wrigley Field” to piss in a trough, sit under the terrace (obstructed view) and show up to a game 4 hours early to find parking. the “experience” of Wrigley is overrated. If they could build new stadium/parking lot in burbs it would be financially beneficial in my opinion. i go to cubs games because i am a fan of the team not the ballpark.

      • Brian Myers

        The thing is, they could build a new park with most of the same character of existing Wrigley. Ivy, scoreboard, shape of the field, even brick. Maybe even tear down certain parts and haul it over to the new site. Just upgrade everything else. Keep the character and existing experience… but upgrade everything else about it. I doubt it’s a matter of “if”, it’s just a matter of when. (But that could be quite some time in the future).

        • hardtop

          That’s like saying its okay for your wife to bang your brother because he looks like you.

          • Levo

            That’s just funny, hardtop. I love Wrigley…at the least, improve the player facilities.

          • Brian Myers

            If he looked as hot as me, but was even better, I couldn’t blame her. ;-)

            Let the Cubs bang an improved facility.

    • mark

      I wouldn’t mind it either, but good god, what if they won it all…at the cell…we would literally never hear the end of it…

    • rocky8263

      To Bgjacks It’s obvious you have no true connection to The Cubs or Wrigley Field. You’d rather see the Cubs play in Milwaukee? Maybe you’re better off being a Brewers fan. The Cubs are Wrigley and Wrigley is the Cubs. Sure a sparkling new stadium in Naperville might be convenient for the one or two games you might attend but Wrigley is the anchor for the neighborhood. I lived at Halsted and Waveland until I turned 13 and my Dad had his business in the shadow of Wrigley. My friends lived in the apartment buildings up and down Waveland and Sheffield and sat in lawn chairs on the rooftops sipping warm beer stolen from our parents. I know the rooftops are gone but these things still happen around Wrigley and could never happen at a new suburban park. Look at the ballhawks at batting practice and the guy in the apartment window across the street watching the game in his wifebeater with a beer in his hand. These things and a thousand others are uniquely Wrigley. I dont care that the johns stink and the food sucks. I go for the baseball and I want my daughters to experience a real urban ballpark. Cause when they finally play for it all I want it to happen where I suffered the Bartman game and a thousand others.And I know there are thousands more just like me. Different stories same place.

      • bgjacks

        im a cubs fan through and through but i didnt grow up in the neighborhood so i do not have the connection to wrigley as you do rocky8263. My reference in wanting a new stadium is more for the team and business side of the Cubs. i think the team would be better off with a new stadium. yes, i realize it would kill the neighborhood, do i want that to happen of course not. i understand the connection to wrigley but in my OPINION the team would be better off with a new stadiium. i think the benefits outweigh any and all historical context whatever it maybe….

  • Cub Style

    Do it when I’m in Afghanistan, or Iran, or whatever. I don’t want to have to go there all the time.

    • SirCub

      You’re not the only one who would rather go to Afghanistan than the Cell.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Pretty soon, Yoennis Cespedes would rather play in the cell than in Oakland.

      • Cub Style

        Website wide trip?

  • Tim Mo

    The attendance battle would be the most interesting aspect if the Cubs did move in for a year. Who would draw more?

    • Matt

      I’d put my money on the Cubs outdrawing the Sox, especially if the Sox aren’t any good during that given year. The incentive Cubs fans would have in taking the Sox home park away from them would be a huge motivation to attend Cubs games if they were at The Cell.

  • ferrets_bueller

    I’m much closer to Comisky, so no complaints here…especially if it comes with the bonus of the Cubs no longer having to play in a…um…..well……sh*thole.

  • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

    I have no problems with US Cellular, but I’d rather see the Cubs try to swing a deal to play in Soldier for a season. In general I don’t like baseball teams playing in football stadiums, but for one season it could work. The novelty factor should lead to some extra ticket sales, and it would be easier for the league to handle scheduling without two teams sharing one stadium.

    • JB88

      That would still be difficult with the football season’s start date.

      When all the hullaballu was going around over the sod at Soldier Field, there were multiple reports that the Bears had some level of control over the use of the field. Not sure that is accurate, but that would certainly be an interesting concession that the city would need to make for the Cubs — giving them a year worth of access to Soldier Field — and one that the Bears would undoubtedly need to sign off on.

      That’s a lot of politics that need to be played just right, not that trying to convince the Sox to allow the Cubs to play in the Cell doesn’t present an equally difficult tight rope to walk.

  • MichaelD

    2014 is the hundredth anniversary of Wrigley Field
    2015 would be the Cubs 100th season in Wrigley
    2016 is the hundredth anniversary of the Cubs playing in Wrigley Field

    I would think they would not want to miss any of those by playing elsewhere for the year.

  • chris margetis

    I think the Cubs would quickly find out just how important Wrigleyville and Wrigley are to their revenue stream.

    • Toosh

      And vice versa.

  • Kevin

    Let’s get to the most important issue …………. the Cubs need to play more night games. If the owners don’t get permission to play the same number of night games as other teams in the league then it’s time to look for a permanent replacement.

    • DocWimsey

      Ever since I can remember (the 1970′s for this!), both Cub and non-Cub players have been saying that the Cubs will never be on an even footing with other teams until they start playing the same number of night games as everyone else. And, let’s face it, the numbers back up what the players have been saying: players fall off worse in September while playing for the Cubs than they do for any other team.

  • Mark

    Wrigley makes the Cubs the Cubs! I love the Cubs because of Wrigley not in spite of it.

  • Luis Salazar

    I think this sucks big time. The Comskey area, parking, and atmosphere sucks. And this is going to happen when the Cubs are finally competitive in 2013? If they are going to do it, do it this year when they are terrible.

  • TeddyBallGame

    Soldier Field?? Even a worse idea than U.S. Sell-your-soul. Football players annually vote on field conditions at stadiums throughout the NFL and every year, Soldier FIeld finishes in the bottom three..so, if it’s a bad playing surface for football, then for baseball it’d be a complete nightmare. It would be terrible to play away from Wrigley for a season, but the Bears played at Univ of Illinois (Champaign, IL.) and for the long-term it was worth it. Let’s stop thinking short-term benefit like drug dealers do and be open-minded to the possibility of a season away from Wrigley for long term benefit. Anyone that suggests moving the Cubs to the suburbs is beyond high and needs to pass whatever their smoking to fellow BN’ers because it’s obviously good stuff….

  • hcs

    Completely unrelated note, just read your guest spot at BCB. I have to say, i thoroughly enjoy reading your work, Mr. Brett. Keep it up.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, hcs. I was glad to have the opportunity to share my a little of my stuff in another place. For now, it’ll just be a short post like that, three days a week.

  • die hard

    Not necessary because the Cubs can improve Wrigley by working segments at a time throughout season by increasing away games to 100 and limiting 62 home games to June through August….

  • ferrets_bueller

    I think a lot of these responses show the degree to which shortsightedness still pervades the fanbase. Would you rather not go to Wrigley for one year, regardless of how the good the team may be, or forever have a subpar stadium?
    Must not be many Bears fans here, taking a season away from Soldier Field looks great now.

    • Luis Salazar

      I am not being “shortsighted” as you say at all. I think most fans, and myself have completely bought in with the new FO’s long term vision for a winner every year. I was just saying the Cell area is not cool, and it is dissapointing to think of going to Cubs games there for “one year” when they may be a competitive team. I think your comments are waaaay off base…..

      • ferrets_bueller

        “I was just saying the Cell area is not cool, and it is dissapointing to think of going to Cubs games there for “one year” when they may be a competitive team. I think your comments are waaaay off base…..”

        How is that not shortsighted?

        Wrigley field can’t be renovated, because it would mean having one year in which a possibly competitive team may have to play across town? I mean, really…which is a better value?  Giving up one year of games in a rapidly deteriorating stadium, or making it so that Wrigley Field isn’t a deterrent to the on field product, and is able to last for another 100 years like Fenway is poised to do?

        The Bears had to give up a year of Soldier Field, one season after being 13-3 and being a top seed.  It definitely looks a lot better now than it did before or during.

        • Luis Salazar

          I just don’t agree with you at all Ferrets. Fenway was never closed, and the Sox never played their home games at Yankee stadium. If there is anyway to avoid playing a whole season at the Cell i think they should. Fenway had it’s renovations done over many years.

          • ferrets_bueller

            That a slightly absurd comparison (redsox at yankee stadium)…if we were saying all Cubs home games would be played at Busch Stadium it would make sense, but…we’re not.

            Fenway never had to be closed because it didn’t need to be as drastically rebuilt as Wrigley does.  The changes done there could be done piece by piece.

            Obviously, doing so at Wrigley would be better.  But if the only choice, or the best choice, is to lose just one year at Wrigley, it would be absurd not to.

            • Luis Salazar

              Yeah the Yankee stadium thing isn’t apples to apples, I just threw a stadium I thought was close off the top of my head. I wasn’t thinking about rivalries or divisions… All I am saying is it would be a tough pill for a lot of fans if the Cubs were a playoff team in 2013 at the Cell. Obviously not as big of a deal for you… But I really do think most Cubs fans have the big picture in mind with the new Cubs FO.

  • cubsnivy56

    love the Cubs, love Wrigley, love the bleachers, love Wrigleyville.  There is nothing inconvenient or unpleasant about it to me.  I have been to 40 or 50 games and each and every time I go it feels special.  I’ve been to a few other stadiums in St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Kansas City, the Cell and none of these come close to the experience on the North Side.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Now I’m told that Cubs-to-the-Cell for a season will never happen. It certainly seemed highly unlikely any time soon.

    • Luis Salazar

      Thank god!!

  • mac

    Wouldn’t it be weird if the Cubs won the series the year that they did not call Wrigley home?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s a great question for Cubs fans: would you take a WS next year, for example, if it came at the Cell?

      The answer is probably going to be an overwhelming “yes,” but an icky-feeling one. I think I’ll post this on the Message Board.

      • Luis Salazar

        That’s a difficult question Brett. Oviously Cubs fans will take a title anyway they can get it. But there would be no denying something would be missing if it were done at the Cell.

        • Levo

          I think I would feel like there was something missing if it weren’t played at wrigley. But i’d still take it.

          • mac

            I think the curse/conspiracy people would have a field day. On a personal level I would kind of feel like something was lacking, but I am certain I would get over it when I realized what had just happened.

      • Frank

        After this long, the choice has to be the World Series–but can we turn Soldier Field into a baseball stadium?

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Mac,
      I think it would be REALLY weird if the w/s was Cubs and Sox.

  • clark addison

    the Cubs played the 1918 World Series home games at Comiskey Park because of its greater seating capacity.

  • Andy

    Just imagine the year they are at the Cell is when they finally make the World Series. How fast would those reno plans be put on delay?

    • ogyu

      If that incredibly unlikely turn of events came to pass, it’s obvious that the impulse would be to get that winning team into its refurbished Wrigley home as quickly as possible. It’s ridiculous to suggest that winning would lead the team brass to want to somehow extend the absence from Wrigley.

  • KB

    If there ever was a time to remodel Wrigley, it’d be now, as we’re simultaneously remodeling the team.

  • RoughRiider

    I imagine the business around Wrigley would drop off to the extent that some wouldn’t be able to weather the storm. It would put a huge hole in the economy of that area if the Cubs were to play elsewhere. Maybe this is a way to scare them into allowing more night games.

  • TeddyBallGame

    I’ll take a World Series if it meant playing home games at SafeCo (Mariners stadium). Let’s put this in perspective…as a lifelong Cubs fan, as I’m sure most of us on here are, can we really start picking and choosing when it’s best to win it all?? I think not, it may seem unappealing to consider winning the WS away from Wrigley, but I’d take it without thinking twice about it…glad to hear U.S. Cell-your-soul is not an option, but I’d be fine with Miller Park or any other possibility available. Let’s do this and do it right!! I feel like this is the new regime’s mentality and they seem to actually be doing something about it. Very refreshing!! I was at every home game last year, so without a doubt I appreciate “the Wrigley experience”, but long-term benefit seems appealing here…

    • Frank

      I’m with you TeddyBallGame–if it meant the Cubs in a World Series, I don’t care where it is.

  • Edwin

    I don’t really have a problem playing at The Cell for 1 season. Or even Miller Park, but that’s me being selfish since I live in Milwaukee. If building a new stadium/renovating Wrigley gives the Cubs a chance to build a better, modern Wrigley, then lets do it. There is no reason the Cubs can’t find an architect who can design a beautiful, comfortable stadium, with all the old icons of Wrigley. At some point, Wrigley will need to be torn down anyway. It’s just too damn old. Why not build a new stadium that can last another 100 years, and maybe this time win a few championships in it.

  • Mike Foster

    Very simple for me, if the Cubs leave Wrigley then I’m a Braves fan. I travel to Chicago because I love the Cubs at Wrigley. NO other stadium has the atmosphere of actually being in a neighborhood like Wrigley is. Fenway last May was waaaay cool, but it’s in a factory area.

    And to tell the truth I think this whole thing is a trial balloon from the FO. YMMV.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      “if the Cubs leave Wrigley then I’m a Braves fan.”
      This makes it sound like you a Wrigley fan instead of a Cubs fan.

      • Mike Foster

        Norm, I don’t see any difference. No Wrigley, they’re not the Cubs, just a mediocre team in a new stadium. May as well be a Marlins fan.

    • Edwin

      Mike,

      Is there anything specific that you love about Wrigley that they couldn’t include in a new stadium? If you love the ivy, they can get new ivy. If you like the old scoreboard, they can keep that too. The bricks, the view of the neighborhood, all of that can be built into a new stadium.

      I love the atmoshpere at Wrigley too, but there is no reason the Cubs can’t create a new and better atmosphere at a park that is comfortable to watch a game in. Watching a game in comfort, without the smell of urine, with good site lines from every seat, and no troughs to pee in is the feline’s sleepware.

      • Mike Foster

        Edwin, fair question. Baseball to me is history, history of the game and history of places. Yes, they could build all those things into renovations and may pull it off. I’m just a bystander on that, the FO will do what it does. But if they leave the location, if they destroy the history of Wrigley (think we must destroy it to save it BS) then yeah, I can get that atmosphere at nearly any ballpark in the US. Ever notice how many parks are built to look like Wrigley on the inside, fans closer to the field, brick back stops, etc. They are all attempting to attain the charm of an old field like Wrigley, but with the modern built into them. And yeah, modernizing would be good for players and fans. Just don’t move out of the location. Save the ivy, the scoreboard, the rooftops, the fire station, the neighborhood and as much original structure as possible. And just don’t get too comfortable, that can backfire (think Carver Hawkeye Arena). Thanks for asking.

  • Julian

    I’m a big proponent of tearing down the grandstand and re-doing it. For what it’s worth, I’ve had 2 separate conversations with Tom Ricketts over the past year and I’ve asked him about possibly tearing it down, and both times he was emphatic about not going to that extreme, but instead just doing repairs and band aids. It’s possible he’s changed his tune, but I think this NBC report is bogus.

    With that said, any idea what would happen to season ticket owners if they did move to the Comiskular? I for one would not want to renew my season tix to travel all the way down to the south side for games. That would be a really terrible way to lose my season tix though.

    Anyone privy to what the Bears did for season tix holders when they went to Champaign for a year? If you didn’t renew were you SOL and went to the end of the list?

  • TeddyBallGame

    Touche Norm, touche….if the Cubs did major, major renovations at Wrigley I’m hoping that they install a huge drop down projection system for 7th inning stretch purposes from the pressbox area….One easy, simple change would be with changing the charade that goes on durinig the stretch and that’s been of lesser quality as previous years have gone on. After Harry Caray passed away, it was nothing but A-list celebrities so it was tolerable, but now, more times than not, it’s people noone has ever heard of. I’m throwing this in the suggestion box, but what if instead of randoms singing the stretch, we have a drop down projection that plays Harry Caray or Ron Santo singing the stretch to the fans. Not only would this be a great tribute to the two, but who wouldn’t get fired up hearing one of them sing it?? I know I would. Just a thought, but I think it would change that part of the games for the better…

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Tear it down. Keep it and fix it up. Move to the burbs….whatever. Just give us a World Series.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    What the Heck I knew it was too good to be true about Jorge Soler. I see that there is no deal in place and the Yankees ( Nooooooooooo) have serious interest in him well what the Yankees want the Yankees get :(

  • SosaCrackers

    Those drafts they came up with when they were asking the city for money were just great. They had everything great about Wrigley and more. If playing a year away from Wrigley could make that dream of a park come true then I’m all for it. No way the Cubs have a good chance to contend for a world series in 2013 anyway. For anyone who doesn’t agree go to google and search around for what the plan is and really think about how nice it would be to have that park when we really enter our prime.

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