Within a matter of weeks, the Chicago Cubs broke my heart and stole my punch line.
It all began with me, knowing nothing about the Cubs Organization’s controversial renovation plans, saying to a friend that I thought a really funny date idea would be to get dressed up in Cubs gear and get fake-engaged on the Jumbotron at Wrigley Field (I mean months into the relationship, not the third date or anything). It would poke a little fun at the stereotypical Wrigleyville types, make a good YouTube video, and be a really great Chicago memory. However, I was informed that Wrigley Field is the only major league baseball stadium without a Jumbotron. It was a crushing blow.
I started reading about the issue with the intention of writing an article calling for a Jumbotron so that I could fulfill my fake-engagement dreams, but couldn’t help but be taken with the sincerity of Cubs fans’ love for Wrigley Field and the romantic notion of keeping its historical integrity intact. Everyone I asked about it spoke of remembering going to their first Cubs game with his or her grandpa, and how Wrigley Field was like a museum, and special in that way.
I started to feel bad about the Jumbotron joke, and decided that if I was to go forward with my article I would have to additionally propose the most audacious, ridiculous and offensive changes I could possibly think of in order for it to be clear that I was only kidding and really did support the city of Chicago in their commitment to preserving one of their most important historical landmarks.
Little did I know that while I was thinking of a Jumbotron, a club, and a fusion restaurant as quite incendiary topics, the Cubs were about to announce that very weekend that they were planning to make some of the same changes that I had proposed in my joke, and that the historical integrity argument had been thrown entirely out of the window. As someone who only experienced a week of loving the nostalgia of Wrigley Field, I found it sad and cannot imagine how this would feel to lifelong Cubs fans. It is certainly not your grandpa’s ballpark anymore.
The upside to this situation is that apparently I am a marketing genius, possibly psychic, and am evidently in the vanguard of some very important changes in the Cubs Organization’s attempts to increase the “real estate landscape” of Wrigley Field.
Therefore, I have come up with the following suggestions for the Cubs’ owners and management team that I think would be extremely helpful in their attempts to gut, rehab, and upgrade Wrigley Field to the standards of their surrounding neighborhood. Call it a gift.
As Americans we all know that newer is always better, and that nostalgia is for losers. Why stop at bringing Wrigley Field into last century? This is an opportunity to change not only the way the nation views the Cubs, but the entire sport of baseball. Who are these historical preservationists, anyway? Let’s shove those nerds back into the lockers where they belong!
I think that the Cubs’ announcement has made it clear that if there’s one thing that baseball is not about, it’s history.
If we are going to embrace the future we have to get rid of the past, so let’s deal with a few of those messy landmarks. I suggest a full-on fire sale. We can call it “The Great Chicago Fire Sale.” If we are talking profits boys, that ivy has got to go. Money is obviously more important than plants and it is only taking up valuable Budweiser advertising space. Sell that antiquated scoreboard to the Rock n’ Roll McDonalds in exchange for the rights to the McCub sandwich (which I assume would be a club sandwich with no lettuce). Replace the old-fashioned marquis with a new logo designed by Shepard Fairey. Look what he did for Obama. Selling the naming rights could also bring in some quick cash and spruce up Wrigley Field’s image. Willis Tower Field has a nice ring to it.
I assume that a Jumbotron plan is already underway, so I say let’s be the first at something for once and get a 3D Jumbotron. In addition, wouldn’t Cubs fans prefer if we replaced their old seating with new chairs with surround sound and a personal screen on the back of every chair, perhaps also in 3D? It’s a safe bet that every man, woman and child at every game already is carrying an iphone, so once the Jumbotron is up, we could launch an app where the fans and players could tweet about the game on the bottom of the screen in real time — in 3D! Another brilliant idea would be to bank on my engagement idea and offer a special proposal package with roses, a giant diamond ring shaped like a can of Old Style hidden inside of a box of Cracker Jacks, and a mid-game player serenade of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” That would make a killing.
On the topic of music, I think that this sky deck for fans to mingle freely is a fabulous idea, but why not make it a dance club as well? We should have Lady Gaga open. It will appeal to a newer, younger generation of Cubs fans, and Lady Gaga loves baseball. I like this idea of using Wrigley Field for a Bruce Springsteen concert, based purely on the irony of his album being titled “Wrecking Ball,” but let’s face it, the Boss is getting a little… well, let’s just say that he still has “historical integrity.” Get with the times and think Beiber. Teenage girls are America’s largest consumer group and the Cubs are ignoring this market to our own detriment. Win the hearts of tweens across the nation with a movie, or even a movie series, with a heartthrob cast where all of the Cubs players are vampires. Call it “Night Games.”
Also, if we are going to give Wrigley Field a makeover, it would make sense to do the same for our fans. We need to improve the nation’s image of Cubs fans and encourage a more attractive audience, so I propose that we remove half of the bleachers and replace them with gym equipment so that, as opposed to a gym or home-gym, fans can yell at an actual ballgame while they work out. Memberships fees would exponentially increase ballpark profits, and we can always take a video of the historical integrity of the old bleachers and play it on the Jumbotron. An outdoor spa would also be classy. What Wrigleyville girl could possibly oppose the chance to get a mani/pedi, massage, and highlights while they drink Old Style and watch the game? Wouldn’t a yoga class be a nice, healthy addition to the seventh inning stretch?
Finally, reality television is America’s new pastime, so let’s cash in on that market while it’s hot. I propose a season-long weight loss competition. We can call it “The Biggest Loser: The Chicago Cubs.” Surely there are also many unusual and colorful personalities among both players and fans. Why not exploit their talents and have Wrigley Field host a televised amateur singing competition for a cash prize? It would eliminate the cost of paying high player salaries, and it would probably sell more tickets than a ballgame. We wouldn’t even need baseball anymore, and we can play it on the Jumbotron in 3D.
Words: R. Fass