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If You Honor It, They
2003-03-14 00:25
by Mike Carminati

If You Honor It, They Will Leave

In a story that screams of "cutting off your nose to spite your face", the Cubs are threatening to leave Wrigley if it is designated a landmark, since it "could hinder the team's ability to keep the ballpark functioning."

This comes from a team whose ability to keep itself functioning has been severing hindered for decades by its own management. The Tribune Company seems much more concerned with profits than pennants, and it shows. The Cubs enjoy all the benefits of playing in probably the most beautiful and awe-inspiring stadium in the world but are not willing to accept any of the disadvantages, such as interlopers just outside the fences getting a free view of the action and having to ensure that the stadium stays beautiful.

I have no sympathy for the freeloaders who think that just because they have been lucky enough to enjoy free baseball games for years it is their birthright. Not only that, it is also a means to turn a tidy profit, when they charge admission or rent or sell their baseball-stealing domiciles. Put up a screen to block their view or make them pay for the privilege. They remind me of the crybabies in Manhattan who fight for rent control so that they can rent out their cheap apartments for exorbitant sums of money.

However, all that landmarking Wrigley will do is prevent the Cubs from performing renovations, such as luxury boxes, that are detrimental to the ballpark's appearance. The Cubs' lawyer protests calls this the "first-ever landmarking of vegetation" (i.e., the ivy in the outfield) and claims:

"We are taking a park that has changed progressively for 89 years and making a determination that, as of today, it needs to change no more."

Changed progressively? Wasn't this the last major-league ballpark to install lights? (On 8-8-88, they played their first night game to be exact.)

Andy MacPhail thinks that the move will alienate the fans:

"This landmarking ordinance will at very best delay and, at worst, deny us the ability to adapt to the always evolving desires and requirements of our fans," MacPhail said. "Ballparks that don't respond to their fans' needs, particularly 89-year-old parks, become endangered."

The fans like the stadium. Why else would they follow this team that has been wallowing in mediocrity for decades.

I say landmark the stadium and let the Cubs leave. Nobody likes the new Comiskey. Let the White Sox play in Wrigley. Why not, the Cubs stole it from the Federal League Whales in the first place (well, more precisely the majors allowed the Federal League owner to buy out the Cubs and help submerge the independent league). Let the Cubs move to the soon-to-be vacated Montreal or to Portland, Las Vegas, D.C., or any of the myriad of cities being mentioned as a new home for the Expos. Then they will actually have to put a quality product on the field after the glow of immigrating to a new city dims, and we'll see if a minor issue like playing in a landmark in the third largest market in the country is really at issue.

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