Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, was the last Major League ballpark to install lights. Now the Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs, want to make various other alterations to the ballpark, including the installation of a large video screen.
Chicago Tribune staff writer Ron Grossman is among those who treasure Wrigley as it is, and as it was. He joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the proposed changes — and the political hurdles blocking them.
“The field is landmarked,” Grossman said. “By Chicago ordinance, once a structure gets that, no alteration can be made to it without the city’s permission.”
Alderman Tom Tunney says he’s trying to protect the interests of his constituents, the members of the Wrigley Rooftop Association. That group represents restaurants and other businesses with a view of Wrigley Park.
“People go there and they get a whole package – they get a meal, and some drinks, and watch a game from up there. If the scoreboard stays in place, then the jumbo screen has to go either in right or left field. If it goes in right field, those people are out of business.”
In a column for the Tribune, Grossman wrote about the “emotional preservation” of Wrigley Field. The way he sees it, Chicago reveres the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley the way other cities idolize individual athletes.
Grossman related a story told to him by Lennie Merullo, who played shortstop for the Cubs in the ’40s. During the 1945 World Series, Merullo was injured during a game – but wouldn’t get the wound stitched up, because he wanted it a scar to form.
Fifty years later, Merullo told Grossman he would look at that scar and say to himself, “You see, Lennie? You were there. You played in a World Series.”
“Now, you can’t alter the park where this guy takes those memories from, without offending other people’s memories,” Grossman told Bill Littlefield.
The owners say they hope to have the dispute resolved by Opening Day.