If you build it, they will come. Or, at least, that’s what the Chicago Cubs are hoping.
The Cubs will close out the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field tonight when they play their last home game of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals. When the lights go down on the field Wednesday, however, it will be more than the end of both a season and a century at the ballpark — it will also mark the end of a video-free era.
The Chicago Cubs’ home finale will be Wrigley Field’s final game as the last major league ballpark without a video board. In the offseason, the stadium will undergo the beginnings of a $575 million renovation that will see many large changes; the least of which include a new video replay board in left field. For a venue that has resisted many radical changes — it was the last major league ballpark to adopt lighting for night games — the change is controversial.
“I’m a traditionalist,” Fred Kilcullen, a 71-year-old Cubs fan, told the Chicago Tribune. “I think it’s going to ruin the ballpark. It’s too big and overpowering to me. But I wasn’t too crazy on (installing the lights in 1988), and those have blended in well. Actually, they’ve done everything tastefully, even the Toyota sign. But I just think the jumbotron is going to be too humongous.”
However, Cubs spokesman Julian Green thinks the changes to modernize the ballpark will allow it to thrive for another century. “In some respects, this is 10 years or more in the making,” Green said. “Throughout all the fits and starts, we’re finally going to be able to save this ballpark. And if you’re going to invest $575 million in this project, it means Wrigley field is going to be here for the next 100 years. It’s pretty cool. It gives you goose bumps.”
The video board, alongside a large Budweiser sign, are due to be ready before the start of the 2015 season. Several other renovations, such as new bullpens, batting cages and home team locker room won’t be completed until the start of the 2016 season.