Ricketts Not Rich Enough Yet

By Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"There are ads behind home plate, in the dugouts, on the green doors of the outfield walls and in arrow electronic bands in the upper deck," the Sun-Times notes. "The Chicago Board Options Exchange has its initials on the brick wall in front of premium seats along the third-base line."

And for what? To pay Alfonso Soriano?

You have to give credit to former Cubs boss Andy MacPhail for at least one thing: he vowed to never desecrate the brick behind home plate with advertising. Now the whole park has been desecrated. And they're not done yet.

"The Toyota sign rising 59.5 feet above the sidewalk would break new ground for advertising to rake in up to $2.5 million in annual revenue."

Not a dollar of which will be used to reduce the price of tickets or a cup of beer. Neither will the team improve if any of that money is spent on payroll; Tribune Company was rolling in dough right up to the end while it owned the Cubs.

I'm reminded of this anecdote I included in a story I once wrote about the Wrigley rooftops:

"In 1989, word spread that the Tribune Co., owner of the Cubs, wanted to erect a barrier that would block the rooftops' views. This incensed the late [Harry] Caray, who took credit for killing the idea.

"'What the hell kind of thinking was that?' a mystified Caray is quoted as saying to fellow announcer Jack Brickhouse in a 1996 book by Janice Petterchak. 'That's one of the mystiques of Wrigley Field. You look out and you see them on the rooftops, drinking, eating some barbecue, having fun ...

"'I went to [then general manager] Jim Frey and raised holy hell. I said, You guys have to be nuts. I said, What's wrong with it? No other team in the history of baseball has had this Then, suddenly, that idea died a quiet death.'"

Ever since Harry left us, the bean counters have chipped away at the mystique that is the very source of Wrigley's power - and profitability. Tom Ricketts may be a nice guy (for a rich kid), but a true Cubs fan wouldn't go for that Toyota sign in a million years - or for a million bucks.

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