Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts announced his latest planned change to Wrigley Field over the weekend, declaring that he’ll build a “Budweiser Patio” in the right-field bleachers by Opening Day that will feature a dining area and bar seating a la recent additions to Fenway Park. It will also feature, according to the crappy rendering, a giant Budweiser ad and an electronic LED strip board, which would be quite a change for a ballpark that still relies on a hand-operated scoreboard in center field.
This is almost certainly an attempt by Ricketts to generate more revenue while dodging landmarks questions; as Cubs VP Mike Lufrano told the Chicago Sun Times, “It doesn’t affect any of the historic features. It does not change the bleacher height or the outfield wall. It’s a way to continue to modernize the park, but keep within the historic tradition of Wrigley Field.” Still, they plan on going before the Landmarks Commission next month, just to be sure.
There’s plenty to like about this plan — it keeps the Cubs in Wrigley, with no public money — and equally plenty to be squeamish about, if you’re a fan of the pre-electronic brand of baseball that can be found now pretty much solely at Wrigley. (There’s currently a small electronic board in center field, but this new one seems more likely to be the kind of strip board that can flash advertisements between batters.) If you’re a fan of the renovated Fenway Park, though — recognizably the same, but with all the modern amenities like cupholders and electronic advertising signage — this is a sign that Ricketts is indeed headed in the same direction, though he presumably hasn’t given up hope of getting public subsidies to help pay for it.