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Friday, April 19, 2013

Bess: Why A Jumbotron At Wrigley Field Is A Super-Sized Mistake

Madlock to Spurlock…Don’t Super Size Me!

Jumbotron? Just Say ‘No!’

The main problem is not the rooftop owners, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s great to have fans watching games from the rooftops across the street—a historic practice to which the Cubs have never objected—but outrageous that rooftop owners veto improvements to Wrigley on the basis of projected “lost revenues.” These “revenues” must be understood for what they are: a theft of the Cubs’ product, to not one dime of which are the rooftop owners entitled.

Nevertheless, it will be a blunder for the Cubs to block the views of the ballpark to or from the rooftops. Annex buildings and game-day street fairs may prove legitimate improvements to both Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville, but an outfield Jumbotron video board will not. Virtually every other MLB stadium has one, but Wrigley is unique in how the immediate cityscape is part of the ballpark experience. The Cubs will be making a mistake if, from their desire for increased revenues, and their squabbles with the fans outside Wrigley Field looking in, they sacrifice the pleasures of fans on the inside looking out.

When a stadium has a Jumbotron, the game becomes secondary and fans in the park start watching the screen rather than the game—which is why large video boards are a dependable source of advertising revenue. If the Cubs want to preserve Wrigley’s historic character in tandem with their construction efforts on Clark Street and their desire to extend their game-day domain to Waveland and Sheffield avenues, they might discreetly place multiple video boards outside Wrigley so fans in adjacent streets can watch the game. This could be a ballpark and neighborhood addition worthy of the baseball, entrepreneurial and larger ballpark culture–preserving ambitions of the Ricketts family and the Epstein regime, and would demonstrate that they understand the value of their assets.

Repoz Posted: April 19, 2013 at 09:25 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, cubs

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   1. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: April 19, 2013 at 09:52 AM (#4419139)
I think this guy is right on target. It's not about the rooftops. It's about the Comiskey-fication of Wrigley Field killing the golden goose uniqueness that was the reason to buy the club in the first place.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 19, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4419145)
I think this guy is right on target. It's not about the rooftops. It's about the Comiskey-fication of Wrigley Field killing the golden goose uniqueness that was the reason to buy the club in the first place.

Of course he's right, but most owners can't see the forest for the trees.
   3. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 19, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4419158)
There is a way to blend the historic and the modern into a great place to see a game. The Red Sox did a great job with Fenway. I'm not familiar enough with Wrigley to know what kind of stuff they can do but I think if they are creative and smart they can be successful.

One of the things that I think Wrigley fans would especially appreciate about the Fenway renovations is that the Sox increased rather than decreased the view of the city from the ballpark. If you look at old pictures you can see the way they eliminated much of the ugly green wall that was behind the bleachers.

Picture from 2000 - Note the green wall between the scoreboard and the billboard (the same existed between the scoreboard and the Monster as well)

Picture from 2011 - Note the open space between the scoreboard and the billboard

It's not an obvious difference but I remember when the change was made being really impressed at the way it opened up the park to the city and created a more intimate effect.
   4. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 19, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4419180)
Who cares about jumbotrons, really? Would it affect attendance at all if they got rid of them? I think gourmet sausages and microbrews have done more for the ballpark experience than the jumbotron has.
   5. Swedish Chef Posted: April 19, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4419199)
Who cares about jumbotrons, really?

Advertisers

Would it affect attendance at all if they got rid of them?

They're not for you, they're for them. They're working as long as they don't scare away the captive audience, especially high-grade demographics.
   6. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 19, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4419207)
They're working as long as they don't scare away the captive audience, especially high-grade demographics.

Now I have to spend some time thinking if I'm a high-grade demographic.

The answer: naw.
   7. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4419210)
Who cares about jumbotrons, really? Would it affect attendance at all if they got rid of them? I think gourmet sausages and microbrews have done more for the ballpark experience than the jumbotron has.

This. The new jumbotrons at Dodger Stadium are freaking amazing. Two gigantic HD TVs over each of the pavillions. They are really fantastic. And they fit them in with the existing architecture wonderfully.

That said, they didn't make my gameday experience any better on opening day*. I don't think anyone is going to go to DS to see the scoreboards. I would much rather they work on the concession stands so that I don't have to stand in line for 2+ innings to grab a hot dog and a water for my son (to be fair, Kershaw and Cain were dealing that day, and the game was moving quickly). I was also far more impressed with how awesome the shuttle service from Union Station to the stadium was that day and how much better it made my day. If you can avoid parking at Dodger Stadium, it is a win. None of the things that went right or wrong with that day had anything to do with the new gigantic jumbotrons.

* Scoreboards had me disoriented for a bit. They changed the spots they put the count and all of that stuff.
   8. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 19, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4419303)
I don't think anyone goes to the stadium for the jumbotrons but I think they do enhance the experience with replays, between inning video and information. I won't make myself a mustard sandwich but if my sandwich doesn't have mustard on it I won't enjoy it as much.
   9. John Northey Posted: April 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4419317)
Also jumbotrons can be useful for extra revenue. The SkyDome in Toronto was used for a lot of movies and TV specials in its early days (final episode of ST:TNG, final Seinfeld, final Cheers for example) and it helps with concerts. As others have said they are great for revenue generation too via ads.

For the Cubs an added bonus is you couldn't see it from the rooftops thus a bonus for both groups - if you hate jumbotrons go to the rooftops, if you love them go inside the park.
   10. Knock on any Iorg Posted: April 19, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4419327)
Now I have to spend some time thinking if I'm a high-grade demographic.

The answer: naw.


Tree dwellers have never been considered upwardly mobile.
   11. Hack Wilson Posted: April 19, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4419335)
After the jumbotron ads the Cubs' relief pitchers (is that an oxymoron?) will be wearing Chico's Bail Bonds ads on the seats of their uniforms-but not out of greed, it is so the Cubs can win a World Series, obviously.
   12. BDC Posted: April 19, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4419338)
Who cares about jumbotrons, really?

At the Ballpark in Arlington, they've made a good decision to show the lineups, framing the linescore, on the jumbotron most of the time. (Between innings, they show ads, naturally.) It's a pretty static display, but it's useful information, and a screen big enough to show it legibly. And the HD video is wonderful. Call me shallow :)

I do think the time has come to show replays of controversial plays. I don't much like to watch replays when I'm actually at a game, but they're here to stay, and if you're going to show highlights, or just routine stuff, why then fail to show some bang-bang double play attempt because the guy was called safe at first and there was an argument? They show replays of everything at NFL games, and no insurrections break out. I think baseball fans could learn to deal with it, and I can't imagine baseball umpires are tenderer souls than NFL zebras.
   13. BDC Posted: April 19, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4419341)
PS: of course in Arlington there's no skyline to obscure. The jumbotron provides the only visual interest anyway.
   14. silhouetted by the sea Posted: April 19, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4419369)
Tree dwellers have never been considered upwardly mobile.


So how do they get home?
   15. Brian C Posted: April 19, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4419448)
I think they can put a big Jumbotron out there without interfering with the views all that much. There's a huge gap in rooftop stands between Kenmore and the Sheffield alley, where the building with the United ad is right now. That building may lose a big chunk of ad revenue, and I have no idea if the owners of that building have a contract with the team the way the other buildings do.

So I'm withholding judgment for now, until I see more of the specifics. I think the RF video board has been a great addition, and I'm not opposed to a Jumbotron at the stadium. Like others, I don't want it to shut out the neighborhood, but I don't think it has to be that way (and probably won't be, unless the team wants to be sued into oblivion).
   16. Shredder Posted: April 19, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4419449)
I'm not a structural engineer, but couldn't they actually build it on the building across the street that has the big advertisement? The one that was Bud, then Horshoe, and now I think United? Then it wouldn't affect any rooftop owners, and the Cubs could pay the building owner to replace the revenue he was getting from the advertisement. Clearly there's a lot of things that would have to be worked out, but even on that building, the scoreboard would be closer to the field than it is in most MLB stadiums. A few people might have views of the Jumbotron obstructed, but obstructed views don't seem to bother the Cubs.

Edit: Wow, Brian posted his comment as I was writing this, but these two comments seem to back up to one another fairly well.
   17. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: April 19, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4419521)
I really dont think the jumbotron would block much other then the front of the apartment buildings. and really I am all for it, more money for the cubs is not a bad thing.
   18. Ron J2 Posted: April 19, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4419566)
I think gourmet sausages and microbrews have done more for the ballpark experience than the jumbotron has.


I had really expensive seats at the Senators last game. Great view of one end of the rink but totally reliant on the Jumbotron when the play was at the other end.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 19, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4419592)
I had really expensive seats at the Senators last game. Great view of one end of the rink but totally reliant on the Jumbotron when the play was at the other end.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd say that says at least as much about Ottawa's questionable pricing policies than it does about the virtues of the Jumbotron. And for that matter, why would anyone pay a premium price for a less-than-total live view of the action?
   20. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: April 19, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4419595)

I had really expensive seats at the Senators last game. Great view of one end of the rink but totally reliant on the Jumbotron when the play was at the other end.


So, I wound up at Wrestlemania this year at Metlife Stadium. The view would have been great, except that the structure surrounding the ring badly obscured our view and attendants offered no help. Consequently, I wound up mostly watching video screens.
   21. Eric Ferguson Posted: April 19, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4419757)
I have decided that WWE is way better to watch at home than in person. Ring of Honor, on the other hand, is more than worth the price of admission.

With that said, I still want to attend at least one Wrestlemania before I die.
   22. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: April 19, 2013 at 08:13 PM (#4419899)
I had really expensive seats at the Senators last game.


Did you at least bring the seat home with you?
   23. bigglou115 Posted: April 20, 2013 at 03:16 AM (#4420208)
I have decided that WWE is way better to watch at home than in person. Ring of Honor, on the other hand, is more than worth the price of admission.


I've never come to anything other than disappointing revelations at wrestling events in Arkansas. I remember WCW had some pay per view event here and it was the moment I realized WCW was dying. Then I went to a Raw once and they billed a h*** in a cell match that was overly confined by the space and I realized that they just really shouldn't wrestle in Verizon any more.
   24. Lassus Posted: April 20, 2013 at 07:59 AM (#4420223)
#14 deserves more credit than it's been getting.

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