November 16, 2010
Other than the bricks and ivy of the bleachers, no part of Wrigley Field embodies the iconic ballpark as much as this marquee. It's older than the ivy, too; the sign has been the stadium's face since the 1934 season.
With that tradition in mind, Chicago Cubs management has decided to paint the sign purple for a college football game this Saturday.
The team even sent a member of its board, Laura Ricketts, to apply one of the first brush strokes.
That's just plumb dumb.
No matter, the Cubs are going all out to transform Wrigley into Northwestern's home away from Ryan Field. And it takes a lot to prepare a stadium for its first football game in 40 years.
Just this past week, we learned a stadium worker tried to
excavate navigate around the Harry Caray statue outside the bleachers. He or she instead "clipped" it, busting the granite base and causing a scene.
Now they're messing with the park itself, though the sign's color should be restored to red once the game ends. But aren't the Cubs flouting Wrigley's landmark status by tarnishing the sign in the first place?
This is the same organization that carefully cleared it with Chicago's Landmarks Commission in order to install an oversized Toyota advertisement in the bleachers. Further, this is the same ownership group that wants the state of Illinois to float $300 million in bonds for stadium renovations.
But did the Cubs check with authorities so they could paint the sign Northwestern's school color? If they did get permission, why was it granted? And if they didn't need permission to spoil the sign, why didn't they need it? It's the coolest or second-coolest part of the ballpark; it should be protected from potential stupidity.
Speaking of which, why are the Cubs removing the infield dirt and tearing up the turf — which they recently took great expense to replace — so the field can be torn up again by football players? It's neat for Northwestern, Illinois and the Big Ten to play this game, but what about, you know, the Cubs?
Playing an NHL game at Wrigley was quaint and relatively harmless in 2009; at least the Blackhawks and Red Wings didn't have to bolt one of the goals to the outfield fence for the Winter Classic. But there's a good reason the Bears moved to Soldier Field in 1971, and why college football hasn't been played at Clark and Addison streets since 1938: Wrigley is not a football stadium.
What in heaven's name are these Ricketteers doing? And as Caray would say, "What about the pitching?"
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