Cubs players not all in favor of pending Wrigley bullpen move

With the NLCS moving to Wrigley Field tonight, it’s time for everyone to write up feature stories on the 101-year-old ballpark’s renovations, including one of the lesser-reported upcoming changes: the move of the bullpens from foul territory to under the bleachers, scheduled to take place for the 2017 season. And as it turns out, even though this is supposedly for the players’ benefit (relievers less exposed to the weather, no more tripping over bullpen mounds while chasing foul balls), some players aren’t too happy about the move:

“I kind of like it,” reliever Jason Motte said [of the current setup]. “It kind of adds to the old school feel at Wrigley. I’ve always liked that about it. Being down the line, it’s one of those things I’ve never really minded…

“Places like Houston, you’re in a dungeon,” Motte said. “This is one of the only places you can interact with the fans, whether it’s at home or on the visiting side. You get to know the people.”

The real reason for the shift — which will place relief pitchers behind the ivy-covered outfield wall, with only a 12-foot-wide chain mesh fence to see out and for fans to see in — is buried in a single sentence in the Tribune article:

[Cubs spokesman Julian] Green said the switch also will add four new rows of seats on each side of the field where the bullpens are currently located.

Meanwhile, the Trib has another article on how the changes to Wrigley, in particular a new hotel and office building the Cubs owners are building across the street, has the surrounding Wrigleyville neighborhood on “the brink of a new era,” though it’s mostly about how the area has changed itself since the 1980s, when it was “pretty rough and tumble,” according to one local business owner. (My first visit to Wrigley was in 1989, and I remember it being pretty similar to today, only with fewer sports-bar-type businesses, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.) Cubs management says the new public plaza adjacent to the hotel could make Wrigleyville more like New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, which seems both unlikely and a curious goal since Rockefeller Plaza is largely an overpriced tourist trap surrounded by office buildings, but I guess when you’re trying to justify how an office building will enhance the busiest ballpark neighborhood in the U.S., you’ve got to go with what you can.

6 comments on “Cubs players not all in favor of pending Wrigley bullpen move

  1. In the 1980s the area around Wrigley was about as “rough and tumble” as the TomorrowLand area of Disneyland.

  2. Hey! Hands off Rockefeller Center. It’s one of the great pieces of 20th Century urban design. As a space, it’s totally great. I will concede that the ice skating is way too expensive, as are the hot pretzels. But the pretzels are too expensive all throughout midtown.

    Sad to hear the wrigley bullpens are moving, though. That blows.

  3. Rockefeller Center is fine for midtown Manhattan, which is pretty much all an overpriced tourist trap surrounded by office buildings these days. I’m not sure it’s what I’d prescribe for Wrigleyville.

  4. I wouldn’t ever have described the Wrigleyville/lakeview area as “dangerous” or rough and tumble. It may even have been a stretch to call it truly blue collar in the 60’s/70s.

    But I think it is a fair comment to say it has gentrified significantly (and I’m not one of those people who say that with relief….).

    I don’t have any access to crime statistics from that area, but my guess is that if the numbers are down now it’s probably because “scratches on my Bentley” stats don’t get tracked the way the petty crimes of the 60’s, 70’s and maybe 80’s do (or did).