What’s Wrong With Sports

Sports Illustrated had an online article this Friday that in one sentence encapsulates what’s wrong with the modern sports-entertainment complex.

In writing that “It’s time to get rid of Wrigley,” Richard Rothschild quotes a Chicago Sun-Times columnist who says the following:

“There’s still rust, the concourses still resemble dark alleys and people still have to elbow their way to their seats. … It’s a great park when you look at the field from your seat. It’s not so great on the way to and from your seat.”

Isn’t the purpose of the ballpark to look at the field from your seat!?  Can I tell you how many BAD ballparks I’ve sat in where the view of the field was lousy; but hey, we have an arcade to distract the kids (they shouldn’t have to suffer and watch an entire game!), we offer a wide variety of sushi, and we have television screens in the bathrooms and team stores so you don’t really have to go sit in your seat.

Jeez!

Wrigley Field doesn’t need to be torn down to be improved.  It just needs renovation – like the award-winning renovation of Fenway Park a few years ago.  I’ve sat in seats at Wrigley as recently as two years ago, and it is – without a doubt – one of the best places on earth to feel you are one with the game.  Do we really think that the corporate types that run baseball will get a new field as right in the one key element that’s critical for a great ballpark experience?

Rothschild also says that Wrigley needs more parking.  Really?  Take a look at the photo below.  The park is full, the streets are teaming, and the elevated train which brought most fans to the park in an efficient and environmentally sustainable way is zipping along just outside the park.  Go to FedEx Field in Washington if you want the suburban experience of miles of parking lots without a real public transit option in sight.  I have – once – and I’ll never go again.

Give me a break.

Greater, Greater Washington gets it right when they note that “Given that Wrigley is always packed despite not being surrounded by seas of parking lots, the status quo seems just fine.”

Owners (and the sportswriters who enable them) need to stop salivating over plush new parks (paid for by the public), recognize and renovate the great places they have, and get on with putting a winning team on the field.

More to come…

DJB