Monday, March 7, 2011

Festivals at Wrigley? I'm not taking my family.

The Cubs want to create weekend festivals on Sheffield Avenue during three different weekends this summer.

Bad idea.

It's getting very close to my blackout on Chicago sports radio that I impose on myself every baseball season. For some reason, I really can't stand listening to people call in and bitch about stupid little bullshit things on that they have not idea about. I do enough of that myself.

Anyway, I basically was completely ignorant to anything going on in the world today because of the overload of work I have at my job right now. That was good because I didn't listen to Carlos Silva's career coming to an end. But on my 45 minute drive home today, I heard Boers and Bernstein talking about festivals and Sheffield Avenue and Yankees and so on. I though, damn...I better get my ass back home, find out more, and bitch about this.

Anyways, the Cubs are looking to close off Sheffield Avenue for three weekends this summer, when the Yankees, White Sox and Cardinals visit, and hold a festival there similar to what they did during the Northwestern/Illinois game in November.

The Cubs are hoping to create a family friendly, festival type of atmosphere just outside of the rowdiest, and most uncontrolled areas in all of Chicago sports, the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Someone tell me how this won't create problems.

Any festival on weekends with the Yankees, White Sox, or Cardinals in town will produce very little in terms of a family friendly atmosphere. In fact, we are probably looking at something that will be much closer to what I saw during the 2003 playoffs which was much more like Mardi Gras in New Orleans than a family friendly festival. I remember when the Yankees were in town in 2003 and then again when the Red Sox were in town in 2005. Lots of drinking. Lots of rowdiness. Lots of, well, behavior that I wouldn't want to have my son around until he was in his 40s.

“It’s really a great opportunity to create an atmosphere that’s family oriented before, during and after the game,” according to Wally Hayward, the Cubs marketing guru. Good luck with that. You are going to try to create a family oriented atmosphere in an area bordered by bars on the north and south, rooftops that offer tickets which include all you can drink on the east, and the frat party that is the Wrigley Field bleachers on the south.

What is going to be created is logistical nightmare where too many people who have been drinking too much are crunched into an area that is way too small.

I've been accused for being no fun...especially after my scathing post about the Wrigley Field bleachers in the middle of last season. Fine. But that doesn't change the fact that the likelihood that the Cubs can create a family friendly atmosphere in a one block area that is surrounded by places that pretty much solely profit in getting people drunk off their asses is close to zero. The idea is ludicrous.

The 2003 playoffs were probably the closest thing to what will occur at these festivals. I was there. I had tickets for 3 of those games and was on Waveland for one other game during that run. In fact, I had to go through a security check point just to get onto Waveland before game 6 of the NLCS. I kid you not when I talk about the Mardi Gras atmosphere, especially after the games. Women flashing crowds from the windows of the buildings in the area. Beads being thrown. People climbing the light poles. Vomiting on the streets. Public urination. Granted...much of this stuff happens during the season anyways...but creating an enclosed "festival" will just invite it to happen even more.

Another problem, while something like this could possibly be used somehow as a revenue generator for the Cubs (except they don't plan to charge for admission to these festivals), it continues to add to the theory that, first, the Cubs are more serious about just getting people to Wrigley than putting a winning team on the field, and, second, that the whole Wrigley Field experience is nothing more than a giant beer garden that pretty much encompasses the triangle of Clark, Sheffield, and Waveland.

With all that said, this festival thing isn't a done deal. It still has to get approval from the community and the alderman in that part of the city, Thomas Tunney, has some reservations about this. As is usual, the Cubs will probably get their way, though.

There is no reason to add to the already festival atmosphere at Wrigley. My guess is that the Ricketts family thinks this will be similar to what the Red Sox have with Yawkey Way. Well, Fenway doesn't have the Wrigley Field bleachers. It's not the same. Eventually, when the Cubs are finally able to build the Triangle building off of Clark, they might achieve the Yawkey Way experience, but that won't be outside the bleachers surrounded by rooftops and bars. Now I haven't been to Fenway in 15 years, so maybe things are closer to Wrigley than I think they are, but I think I'm probably right about this. Fenway, from what I've seen, doesn't have this fraternity party atmosphere around it.

Despite every effort to make it a more family oriented experience, you really aren't going to create anything different than what already surrounds Wrigley. This is about as bad of an idea as Carlos Silva making the starting rotation right now.