Rumors have flown and been somewhat denied about the Cubs possibly spending the 2013 season playing home games at 35th and Shields. This of course raises the ire of plenty of fans that support both teams. For the record, I’m not necessarily one of them, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The Ricketts family has expressed interest in doing some major renovations of Wrigley field. I’ve seen an estimate that puts it at over 200 million dollars worth of renovations. That sort of scale won’t get handled in just a few winter months, which would leave the Cubs without home, hence the rumors of renting a little time at US Cellular.
The main culprit in circulating these rumors was an NBC Chicago report stating the possibility. It goes on to be rather unsure of whether or not such a thing would actually happen. The Rickets family and other sources denied the report while wording in such a way that certainly leaves the subject open. As I’ve said, the situation gets some fairly emotional responses but this is a much more negative thing for the Cubs fans than it is for the Sox fans. According to the 2011 MLB Fan Index the Cubs register the 3rd highest average ticket cost as well as the 3rd highest Fan Cost Index of $305.60. Fan Cost Index factors in the prices of 4 tickets at average price, 2 small beers, 4 small soft drinks, 4 regular hot dogs, parking, 2 game programs and 2 of the least expensive adjustable hats available, basically trying to assume what one family would spend on a trip to the game. That’s a lot of money. If the Cubs move forward with renovations, they allegedly plan to ask season ticket holders to purchase PSLs for their seats. I’m sure Bears ticket holders are already groaning, but for those unfamiliar, PSLs are Personal Seat Licenses which basically means you have to pay for the right to later purchase your season tickets every year. Seem odd that a team already pulling in so much money needs help financing some stadium work? Well here’s where the White Sox benefit.
It’s not just the stadium costs that the Cubs are trying to recoup here. The White Sox may be kind enough to let the folks from the north tear up their field a little, but not nice enough to let them do it for free. A cut of the gate, Sox pocketing concession money or something of that nature will probably take place. I also don’t see any way the parking revenue, for official White Sox lots, don’t stay home as well. Whatever agreement is reached, that’s pretty much lost revenue for the Cubs and a lot of extra bucks for a team that had their stadium financed entirely by public funds (The Cell completed its own initial renovations in 2005 at a cost of $70 million and various smaller changes after that but I’m unable to officially locate where that money came from*). My point, which I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, is that’s free money for the Sox. That’s money that can get put to use to go out and pick up the next silly “let’s take a chance” contract that comes over the waiver wire, a la Alex Rios. Doesn’t that bring a smile to your face?!
That’s all good and well, but what about the bad? The Cubs fans being in our park? Well frankly, they won’t be there when we are (any more than usual) so that shouldn’t matter much. Aside from the fine folks of the Bridgeport/Bronzeville area most Sox fans won’t be affected in that regard. The one real con of the whole plan that I’m prepared to be annoyed with is listening to a certain sector of Cubs fans moan about having to come down to 35th to watch their Cubs play at a park that they don’t feel is up to snuff. Sure, they may eventually get used to the unobstructed views, immense food choices and bathrooms that contain actual urinals and toilets. Hopefully their refurbished home will provide the same. But in the meantime we’ll be stuck at work, school and on public transportation listening to the whining and moaning of the fans that can’t handle the trip. Really though, wouldn’t it be worth it?
*@MJR747 points out that the White Sox renovation money likely came from the U.S. Cellular naming rights, which was a $68M deal.