SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is threatening to move the team out of venerable Wrigley Field if plans for a larger scoreboard and additional signage are not approved.
While a possible move seems outlandish, Coach Madden talked to the KCBS Morning Crew about how this is part of the argument these days, about improving the overall fan experience at sporting events.
“We’re having the same problem in the NFL where television is either getting so good or everyone has all these other ways to watch – on iPads, on your phone. They have to do things extra now to get fans to come to the event,” Madden said. “Getting a big board where you can do these things with electronics; it’s about bringing things up to date with what young people are used to and what they want.”
The Cubs are seeking approval for a 6,000 square foot video board, which would go above the left field wall at Wrigley Field. Team officials are also looking to place four new signs ringing the outfield. Club officials have said the proposals could bring in millions of dollars in annual revenue.
Wrigley Field doesn’t currently have any type of video board and, although much of why the team is looking to implement one is for the advertising dollars it will bring in, Coach Madden said video and replay is part of the fan experience in ballparks and stadiums these days.
“I think we’re so used to that now. When you see a play (the fan) says, ‘I want to see that on replay. I want to see what happened.’ That’s almost an automatic reaction now,” he said. “And that’s the way the business of sports is going. They try to amp it up for TV and TV has become so successful that they’re losing attendance. And part of it is the expense of it. Maybe more people would like to go to the game, but teams are just charging too much.”
The Cubs have also been at odds with the owners of buildings with rooftop views of the ballpark, who charge fans for access to watch games. The boards may block the sight lines to Wrigley, which would obviously be a loss of business for those building owners.