Cubs Threaten Move from Wrigley

As part of yet another drama-filled speech by Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, in a plea to the city of Chicago to build a 6,000 square foot video board on the left field wall, Ricketts proclaimed that the team would leave the location where the Cubs have been for the last 99 years.  While the threat seems real, the viability of the Cubs continuing to sell out while being in last or second to last in a potential future suburban location is slim to none.  The logistics behind the change in the target market are simply too critical to be ignored.  As a previous season ticket holder, I spent many of games with a fear of falling concrete or washing my hands in ice cold water on a just above freezing day in April and the appeal of a new stadium with glamorous amenities (as well as necessities like warm water and restocked toilet paper) would be a dream come true… but not in the suburbs. Having been to a Dodgers game recently in Los Angeles, after completion of the game, people simply returned to their cars and headed home. When I asked a fellow patron on where the nearest bar was located, they smiled and responded with “About 15 miles up the road.” However, being around Wrigley Field at the completion of a Cubs game (or sometimes before depending on the score) has a certain magic to it that cannot be replicated anywhere else. While Ricketts may appear to be negotiating at high stakes, the reality is that the Cubs would wither away without Wrigley but Wrigleyville would continue to thrive based on its shear appeal of location within the boundaries of the city and the proximity to other prestigious neighborhoods. In comparison, the move to the suburbs would cause the permanent fan base to drop immediately and the new fan base obtained would wear off after a few losing seasons. Having personally moved to the suburbs twelve years ago, there are friends that were next door neighbors that I have not seen since due to the inconvenience of traveling either to or from the city. But offer tickets to a Cubs game, and I’m on the blue line before you can tell me who the opponent is.

Besides the change in market demographics, the Cubs would need to work with local transportation as well as highway patrol to assure proper flow of traffic which again differs from the knowledge of traveling in the city. If the Kennedy is backed up, most people familiar with the area would be able to navigate through side streets even without GPS assistance but block an exit on the Elgin-O’Hare and you might as well shut down the entire highway.

So what are your thoughts on a potential Cubs move? Do you think Ricketts has thought out all of the risks associated with the move?