Cubs took commemorative Wrigley bricks and dumped them in a landfill

Say whatever else you will about the Chicago Cubs‘ Wrigley Field renovations, but they sure are providing some just terrible Internet fodder. Playing Opening Night with the bleachers covered by a giant tarp and not enough working restrooms was bad enough, but now there’s this:

Personalized pavers that once lined Clark and Addison streets near Wrigley Field, home of Chicago Cubs, have been found around Pontiac, purportedly coming from the nearby landfill. The bricks had been billed as “permanent fixtures” by the Cubs organization when they began selling them in 2006.

Yes, the Cubs took several commemorative bricks that fans had bought and paid for, bearing such messages as “NICK BODELL  LOVE FOREVER  GRANDMA 2007,” and threw them in a landfill. And here you thought throwing Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday cake in a dumpster was bad form.

Cubs execs said that they warned purchasers back in March that they’d have to remove some bricks and replace damaged ones as part of the renovation process, which is all reasonable enough. But still, as the kids today say, bad optics, guys.

Montreal mayor courts MLB on new team, deploys metaphor that probably sounds even better in French

The mayor of Montreal is meeting with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to tell him he’d love to have a baseball team again, which isn’t really news. But the way he said it is just so awesome:

“We need a plan, we need a step-by-step approach,” [Mayor Denis] Coderre said. “You don’t pull the flower to make it grow faster.”

I have no idea whether that’s some kind of Quebecois French idiom or if Coderre came up with it himself, but either way, I plan on making it my new catchphrase.

Developer proposes hotel complex next to Angel Stadium, Angels respond: “Hands off our parking”

A Chinese developer wants to build a $450 million “residential, hotel and retail complex” next to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, according to the Los Angeles Times:

Plans call for a mega-development complete with a 28-story condo tower, a 26-story hotel, a theater, alfresco dining and an indoor surfing park. The Anaheim project — planned on 14 acres at the corner of State College Boulevard and Orangewood Avenue — is part of a wave of Asian investment in large-scale Southern California developments.

That’s just fine and dandy, and only goes to show that giving a huge swath of land to Angels owner Arte Moreno for $1 probably isn’t the only way to get development to happen in that area. (Unless LT Global Investment Inc. is looking to get subsidies as well — they already bought the land — in which case never mind.) The new development would be required to provide parking, however, and the only available parking is on the Angels’ lot, and the Angels are none too happy about signing off on that:

“We need this land for our parking operations,” Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said.

In a letter to the city in late March, the Angels urged Anaheim to reject LT’s development because it “does not have the rights to all of the land necessary to develop and operate its proposed project.”

So, we have yet another potential standoff regarding the Angels, to go along with how much Moreno would have to pay for the land he wants to develop and how much he’d then put into stadium renovations and whether he’s going to move to Tustin despite Tustin officials not wanting to give him free land either. That new negotiator sure has his work cut out for him, let’s leave it at that.

Wrigley bleachers reopen tonight, new video board operator prepares by smoking crack, apparently

The redone Wrigley Field bleachers are reopening tonight for the Chicago Cubs‘ game against the New York Mets, and how do they look, Bleed Cubbie Blue blog?

wrigley1Okay, I cheated: That’s actually a photo by BCB’s David Sameshima of the right-field bleachers, which don’t open for a few more weeks yet, thankfully. Here’s the left-field bleachers:

wrigley2That looks kinda sorts done-ish, though the construction crews might want to leave those porta-potties there during the game, just in case.

Finally, here’s a view of the new right-field scoreboard, which will be in operation even if the right-field bleachers won’t:

wrigley3That doesn’t look so garish, so long as the background remains green with white and yellow lettering. Which it won’t throughout games, I’m sure, since the whole point of a video board is to show videos, duh, so expect the old-timey lineups to disappear plenty during games for ads and “MAKE SOME NOISE” and the like.

Also, while I’m slightly alarmed to see that the Mets will have the injured third baseman David Wright leading off and playing catcher while the injured catcher Travis d’Arnaud bats second and plays first base — not to mention injured reliever Jerry Blevins starting in right field despite his broken arm — I’m at least happy that the scoreboard operator has anticipated neither team getting any runners on base, as is their respective traditions.

Pulitzer-winning newspaper asks if Rays fans are staying home out of anger that owner can’t break lease

The Tampa Bay Rays are terrible, and the New York Yankees shortstop is Didi Gregorius, so you might expect that attendance for a Rays-Yankees matchup in April might be lower than usual. Or, if you work for the Tampa Bay Times, you can use it as an excuse to write an article titled “Smaller crowds against Yankees at Trop: Are fans tiring of stadium stalemate?” that features lines like these:

But, still, the crowds for the Yankees games were small. Does the stalemate between the city and the team have anything to do with it?

“It certainly may, but I don’t think there is any way to find out,” said council member Bill Dudley.

Now, there are two ways we could approach this. We could look at attendance in past years that the Rays were lousy when there was no stadium controversy, and see that they’re actually drawing better than in the bad old Devil Rays days (though this year’s average is admittedly goosed a bit by having one of their seven home games be opening day). Or we could just try to picture a Tampa Bay baseball fan thinking, “Hey, the Yankees are in town. Could be a good night for a ballgame — but damn, I sure am tired of the city council not letting the Rays owner break his lease and try to get a new stadium built somewhere else. Why, it’s a veritable stalemate! Stalemates are like ties, and ties are for soccer. Hey, I wonder if there’s any soccer on TV? Do I even like soccer? Where did I leave the remote?”

The Tampa Bay Times, interestingly, filed this not under “sports” but “human interest,” presumably because they don’t have a category tag for “clickbait.” Give them another few months, they’ll get with the program.

Cubs really need less ironic slogan for Wrigley renovations than “Making the Confines Friendlier”

Putting up some kind of barrier so that fans can’t hassle players for autographs while they’re walking to their cars isn’t all that unusual. Doing so while in the middle of renovations that have left fans without enough restrooms for two months, then slapping a logo on top reading “Making the Confines Friendlier” — that’s so Cubs.

(Incidentally, can anyone tell me who’s actually being protected from whom by this autograph barrier? It looks like it’s on the corner of Seminary and Waveland, adjacent to the “triangle building” site that’s under construction in the background. But I see what look like fans on both sides — do the players walk a gauntlet between the two fences to the lot on the north side of Waveland? And do they have their own restrooms there?)

Braves VP on parking at new stadium: I hear bicycles are all the rage

Hey, Atlanta Braves and Cobb County, how’s that transportation plan that you’ve been punting on for a year and a half coming along?

The plan for where people can park near the stadium, spread out over 40 acres of property the Braves have purchased around the stadium, will be revealed in the last quarter of 2015 or the first quarter of 2016, he said.

Alrighty then. Do you have any ideas at all for how to get people to games in a spot next to a highway intersection without enough off-ramps in the middle of a not-all-that-developed suburb?

Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of operations, said he encourages business owners and residents to “think outside of the box” and look into new transportation methods to the stadium. For instance, he said, he hopes local community improvement districts will consider extending their biking trails toward the stadium.

Anyone else have any other ideas?

Kim Perez, president of the Kennesaw Business Association, said at a meeting of the organization Tuesday she knows of many business owners in Cobb who are working on a smaller scale to transport employees or customers to the 81 games each year.

“Restaurants and other businesses are thinking about how they can get people to the stadium, and that’s a really neat thing,” Perez said.

Bicycles and crowdsourcing. This really is going to be a 21st-century stadium!

New MLB commissioner is worst ever at explaining stadium blackmail demands

Okay, it’s official: New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred really sucks at shaking down cities for stadium deals. Or rather, he sucks at putting those shakedowns into English. I mean, listen to this:

“I think it is really important for baseball to have viable alternatives with respect to expansion and relocation,” Manfred said [of a possible team in Montreal]. “It’s just good business to make an effort to make sure that we have alternatives available to us in the event that there is a problem. I’m reluctant to characterize them as only relevant on the context of relocation, because I think our sport’s a great sport. It’s tremendously healthy and it has the potential to grow so that I see it as both an expansion and relocation issue.”

I had to read that three times just to figure out even partly what Manfred meant by it; how on earth are the poor francophones in Montreal supposed to suss that out as a “build it with taxpayer loonies, and we will come” ultimatum? I mean, come on, “characterize them as only relevant on the context of relocation,” who talks like that? Sheesh, lawyers.

Anyway, the upshot of all of Manfred’s verbiage is that Montreal might get a team someday through expansion, or it might get a relocated team, but it’s way too soon to talk about either of those, especially without a stadium. But you knew all that already, as did everyone in Montreal, so all this was going to do was maybe get some scare headlines in Tampa Bay, since Manfred made his statement at a Rays game in Toronto. Scare headlines in Tampa, anybody?

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks about Rays stadium issue

Yeah, that’s probably about the best he can hope for. Oh dear, oh dear, doesn’t anyone know how to haggle anymore?

Cleveland Indians remove 7,000 seats, replace them with ugly beige Legos, call this progress

The Cleveland Indians responded to years of declining attendance at Progressive Field this season by spending $26 million* to get rid of 7,000 seats, replacing them with a new sports bar, among other renovations to the now 20-year-old stadium. And if that sounds like it will make the stadium — which was much more hulking than its Cleveland Stadium predecessor, despite having 30,000 fewer seats — more intimate, you probably shouldn’t get your hopes up:

May I be the first to say “ew”?

The problem with the outfield upper deck at the Indians’ stadium, really, is with the deck below it: By making room for a wall of triple-decked luxury suites in the infield (and then not lowering the upper deck once it gets to the outfield, the Indians guaranteed that the top-level outfield seats would be a million miles from the action. That they’re now retrofitting that section with what look like beige shipping containers with retired numbers painted on them is just an indication that 1) stadiums designed with tons of corporate seating are really tough to retrofit for normal humans, and 2) the Indians management wants to leave room to reinstall seats in case the throngs who came to the games during the stadium’s initial eight-year honeymoon period somehow rematerialize.

*This is not actually $26 million in Indians money, of course, since the team just got well more than that in new county subsidies last year to pay for future renovations. Though I guess at least there’s some fitting symbolism in using the cash to set up a new bar, since local alcohol drinkers are going to be the ones paying for it.

Anaheim fires world’s worst stadium negotiator who gave Angels three extra years to threaten to leave

It took a couple of years, but the Anaheim city council voted last week to fire Charles Black, the local developer who’d been in charge of lease talks with the Los Angeles Angels. All Black had done was give Angels owner Arte Moreno an extra three years on his lease opt-out clause on the grounds that “he has the resources and willingness to build his own stadium,” offer to give Moreno $245 million of land around the stadium for $1, and generally piss off Mayor Tom Tait, who for some reason was opposed to a style of negotiations that involved offering the Angels valuable gifts in exchange for not much of anything.

Black will now be replaced by local Democratic operative Wylie Aitken. We’ll have to wait and see how well he does at talking with Moreno about a new lease — something there hasn’t been much of since the Angels owner publicly announced last fall that he was shutting down talks and opening negotiations to move to Tustin, talks that promptly went nowhere fast — but he can’t do much worse than his predecessor.