Cubs’ new images of Wrigley’s “Brand Plaza” are just as depressing as that sounds

The Chicago Cubs owners have released new renderings of what the outside of Wrigley Field will look like after the next round of construction projects, including one of the new “triangle building” and public plaza that will sit next to the ballpark’s third-base side:

81364_1448899663_2015_11_30_cubsbrandplaza-largeThe saddest part of this for me of this isn’t the blandly generic architecture that does nothing to complement baseball’s second-oldest ballpark, or even the fact that Cubs fans appear to be milling about aimlessly on a grassy lawn while the Cubs players celebrate some kind of victory on a garish video board looming overhead. Rather, it’s that the building’s name is still given as “Brand Plaza,” in a your-ad-here moment that looked just as awful when it was included on a sketch of a planned pedestrian bridge:

20131121BrandI guess it’s more honest than pretending signs will say “Wrigley Field” when they actually say “Budweiser.” Still, it’s all a reminder of how whereas the Boston Red Sox took pains to integrate more ad signage and commercial activity into Fenway Park in the least obtrusive way possible, the ongoing Wrigley renovations are first and foremost a way to rebrand the Cubs’ stadium as a retro centerpiece to a prefab “entertainment district.” It’s the attention to detail or lack thereof that can make all the difference in the actual fan experience; I still wonder what Janet Marie Smith could have done with the job, but I guess that’s water under the Brand Plaza arch now.

15 comments on “Cubs’ new images of Wrigley’s “Brand Plaza” are just as depressing as that sounds

  1. That rendering seems to lack any context to where it is. Where’s the stadium? Where’s the CTA? Where’s the skyline? Or Clark Street, or the Cubby Bear? It looks like it’s somewhere in Cobb County.

  2. The stadium is off to the right, Clark Street to the left. Why the sun is setting in the north, I have no idea.

  3. the hostility of the author seems totally unreasonable. He’s probably one of these up-to-no-good-niks who thinks that there should be a wifi-less hipster coffee shop that refuse to put ice over an espresso instead of some sort of viable commercial activity that generates money for the team. Get off the cross, we need the wood!

  4. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the mock trolls from the real ones these days.

    (Also, I hate coffee.)

  5. Meh as long as the stadium itself doesn’t reach Soldier’s Field levels of re-renovations then its all good.

  6. That’s cool. They’re naming the place after British comedian and “Get Him to the Greek” star Russell Brand. Not sure what that has to do with Chicago, though…..

  7. I wondered if maybe Stewart Brand hadn’t decided to pay up to have his name on this thing. But it seems more like a Russell Brand kind of thing…

    I am genuinely surprised at how quickly Ricketts is spending the fan capital that 30 years of Tribune Co investment and development created. He’s too young to remember the crowds of 8-12k bums in seats in the late 1970s… but that’s ok. The way he’s going he’ll see them again in a few years.

    I wonder how many other 30 year + Cub fans are reconsidering their support for the club based solely on the actions of a clueless and money grubbing owner?

  8. You think that’s bad…guess what’s going inside the building? Another sad Cordish Company “Live!” bar/restaurant development (a la St. Louis Ballpark Village, Power Plant Live! in Baltimore, etc.)

  9. Ok, who else anticipated the sheer gravitas of former Bulls stalwart Elton Brand and his impact on the windy city?

  10. Such a missed opportunity for the artists at least to have a little fun. If you’re going to have a placeholder anyway, why not make it, I dunno, Globex Plaza? Vandelay Industries Plaza? Lorem Ipsum Plaza, or something. Then as a bonus, if the naming rights negotiations are delayed, the fake name might stick.

  11. Scott,
    Milwaukee has yet to see plans for its new Bucks arena-adjacent “entertainment mall” but it promises equally “sad” blandness. What’s interesting in terms of generic pitching is that the Bucks and City Development officials have appropriated the Kordish “Live!” brand without any evidence (yet) of Kordish involvement. They never refer to it as a mall, instead hopefully calling it the “live block.” No one knows what they’re talking about without referencing KC Live etc.

    So now perhaps generic entertainment developments will be called “Live! blocks” like tissue is called Kleenex. Until they become dead zones, as many become, at least when there’s no game.

    Oh, and another big difference, they’re promising to “connect” to the massive bar scene right next to the generic mall, thus hoping to make Milwaukee a mini-Las Vegas. The mayor’s new motto is “You can’t have too many bars and restaurants!” And he apparently believes that…

  12. “blandly generic architecture that does nothing to complement baseball’s second-oldest ballpark”.

    I agree 100%. I’m not really a baseball fan but I lived in Chicago before relocating to the West Coast for work. I’ll be moving back in just over a month. I lived off Kenmore Drive not far from Wrigley Field. I’ve only been to the park once (and had an obstructed view thanks to an I-beam directly in front of my seat). Yet as industrial and gritty as that park was I couldn’t help appreciate the nostalgia.

    That photo pictured above looks like a suburban office park dropped onto Wrigley Field. They really didn’t bother integrating the history of the park into the new development. Very disappointing.