We take a break from our regularly scheduled tedium of arguing over whether Kris Bryant should start the season in Iowa or Chicago, to bring you something even more unctuous.
How about Wrigley Bleacher Season Ticket Holders complaining about not only that the bleachers won’t be ready on opening night, but also about how the Cubs keep ruining the “bleacher experience?”
In the Tribune, our good friend Paul SullivanÂ breaks down the disgust of the fans in Chicago who own the most overpriced seats in the city.
Displaced Wrigley Field bleacher season ticket holders complain, adjust
The headline makes it sound like bleacher season ticket holders are sleeping in the Superdome during a hurricane.
With opening day on the horizon and the Wrigley Field bleachers resembling an erector set, some denizens of the most famous seats in sports are wondering if life will ever be the same.
How will the Cubs ever make my 18″ piece of green wood seem as homey as it did before I was temporarily inconvenienced? Â MY LIFE IS MEANINGLESS!
The bleacher season ticket holders are temporarily without a home, and some blame theÂ CubsÂ Â for catering to a younger crowd that drinks more and pays more attention to its smartphones than the game itself.
“It’s all about the party,” veteran bleacherite Linda Eisenberg said.
Well no shit. Â I first sat in the bleachers in 1987. Â It was “all about the party” then. Â I did it all through college in the early ’90s. Â Same deal. Â People like Linda who don’t want things to change ignore the fact that they already have.
Team management misjudged the effects of a harsh Chicago winter on the construction timeline, ensuring the bleachers would not be ready for the start of the season April 5 against the Cardinals.
Did they really misjudge the timeline? Â This hasn’t been an unusual winter in Chicago. Â Hell, it was so mild, people didn’t need to take their dining set outside, they could reserve their freshly shoveled parking spots with lawn chairs.
Talk about festive. Â If you squint, you’d think you were in Turks and Caicos.
There’s no way the Cubs figured the bleachers would be ready by opening day. Â Not only was the timeline tight from just the amount of days they had, but they’ve been doing work on our beloved old shitheap for generations, they knew there was a good chance they’d find something horribly, horribly wrong, and they did. Â They had to replace entire water mains on Sheffield.
The Cubs made a decision to play through the wreckage of this three-year remodeling, and part of the deal is that fans are going to have to put with some shit. Â It’s the Cubs, we’ve been putting up with shit since the phonograph.
The Cubs insist the left-field bleachers will be ready by May 11, with the right-field bleachers slated to open sometime in June. Bleacher season ticket holders were offered refunds, down payments on next year’s tickets or relocation to seats in the “bowl” area, which some found lacking.
“The seats that were available weren’t that good â€” either upper deck or back of terrace,” bleacher season ticket holder Donna Wakefield said.
Nobody knows about seats that aren’t “that good” better than morons who willfully spend every game in the bleachers. Â I can just imagine Donna’s complaints.
- I didn’t get to rub my sweaty knees on the back of the person in front of me.
- When I leaned back I didn’t get to “accidentally” try to use my back fat to rub off the frat boy behind me.
- I was so close to the field, I could nearly see what was happening.
- Not a single outfielder responded to my incessant heckling by flipping me off behind his back and telling me I should die in a fire.
Wakefield, who is part of a group that calls itself “Bleacher Refugees” and has had buttons and T-shirts made with the moniker, took the money. Tim Shockley, another bleacher season ticket holder, said most of the bleacherites he knows also opted for refunds, figuring the early games are played in miserable weather anyway.
Oh, she has t-shirts and buttons. Â What a great use of her refund money. Â Maybe next year when the Jumbotron collapses under the winter snow and destroys a third of the bleachers she can use that refund for a yard sign.
As for Tim Shockley, well, I get the feeling this guy really enjoys being [ticked] off1.
“If it was in the middle of summer, I’d really be (ticked)2,” he said. “There are more night games affected than day games, and we’re not big fans of night games â€” it’s a different crowd.”
We don’t like those night games, mostly because we’re scared of vampires and such. Â I like how, without even any photos, it’s so obvious that nobody who talked to Sullivan was under 60 years old. Â Was it a season ticket meeting or the surviving members of the Phil Cavaretta Fan Club?
After getting her $440 refund for 15 games, Eisenberg, a right-field regular, will miss her first Cubs opener in so long, she can’t remember the last time it happened.
“This totally (ticks)3 me off, and I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid that this is the year,” she said. “If you have to fix the ballpark, why are you starting in the bleachers? The bleachers were redone 10 years ago, and now they’re redoing them again?”
There is no way in the world she can’t remember the last opener she missed. Â Creepy old people like her remember shit like that to the second. Â “It was April 3, 1939. Â They were honoring the ’38 pennant winners and I was upset that I had to miss the game because I had a big algebra test. Â I remember it was unseasonably warm that day, and I wore this yellow dress that my uncle gave me for never telling mom about that time we played ‘Dr. Rex Morgan’ in the garage.”
I love how much they complain that the Cubs keep improving the bleachers. Â “My seat had a rusty nail that stuck out of it for 27 years and sure, I went blind from tetanus a few times, but that’s how I liked it.”
Speaking Monday night at a reception at the Mid-America Club at Aon Center, Ricketts said: “It is about a five-year project and it’s largely done in the offseasons. This year a couple of things were in the way against us in terms of construction. … We’re trying to do things the right way, just make sure we don’t take any shortcuts.”
I hope in year five they tear down the bleachers again, just for the hell of it.
Season ticket holder Rich Skinner also opted for the refund and wishes the Cubs had done more to appease the refugees.
Well sure, they gave me my money back, but couldn’t they have done something nice for me like give my a coupon for those nachos they make in a helmet?
“Some benefits or some type of incentives would’ve been great,” he said. “We have not seen that yet. â€¦ Now there are all these rumors floating around that they won’t be open until even later, and they haven’t really communicated that information back to us. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll be watching any games in the bleachers this year.”
I’m not in construction or architecture, but I’ve seen photos of the project and there’s no way they’ll ever be done. Â At this rate, I’m pretty sure I’ll never see another game in the bleachers again. Â Well, that and the fact that my diabetes has gone untreated for about nine years now and the doctor just gave me eight minutes to live.
Wakefield has been sitting in the bleachers since the 1970s and has had a season ticket there for 18 years. Like Eisenberg, she believes the renovation will “lead to more drinking and partying” in a section synonymous with drinking and partying.
Gee, it’s almost like for 40 years she’s been sitting in the part of the park where people really enjoy getting shitfaced and smoking dope. Â She’s starting to think this might be a trend.
“Getting angry isn’t going to do me any good,” she said. “I wasn’t happy with the (2006) renovation, but I dealt with it. This isn’t a restoration, not when they’re doing this much. They’re really going for ‘Let’s see how much beer we can sell and how many partiers we can have, and who cares about the game?’
Getting angry isn’t going to do me any good, because I’m still angry from the time nine years ago when they actually installed working toilets accessible to our section. Â I liked it better when I had an excuse to shit in my purse. Â Now when I do it people point at me and scream. Â It’s not like the good old days. Â Oh, sure it’s funny when some cute 20 year old drinks too much and throws up in her hands and it gets on the person next to her. Â But when I pass out in the third inning I have a “problem.”
“That’s really how (the Rickettses) see the bleachers. They forget there is a group of us who’ve sat there 20, 30, 40 years who pay attention to the game, keep score and sit there because we feel it’s the best view.”
They haven’t forgotten about you, they’re just waiting for you all to die.
Things change, but Cubs fans don’t. In the 1980s, fans upset about the idea of Tribune Co. adding lights wore bright yellow “No Lights in Wrigley!” T-shirts.
The end of the bleachers as we knew it arrived in 1985, when the Cubs announced they would sell the $3.50 tickets in advance for the first time. The success of the ’84 Cubs, who ended a 39-year postseason drought, had fans lining up before dawn on Waveland and Sheffield avenues for seats. President Dallas Green changed the day-of-game bleacher ticket policy for “security” reasons as traditionalists moaned.
Cubs fans survived, but the “end of the bleachers” happened again later that season when the team added a no-alcohol “family section” near the left-field foul pole, and again on opening day in 1988 when it banned beer vendors from roaming the section. Last rites for the bleachers were held once more in 2006 after a $13.5 million renovation project added 1,790 seats, and again in 2012 when the Cubs added an exclusive patio section and LED board in far right field.
The latest renovation plan has endured several delays, and even after winning city approval last year, the Cubs face a lawsuit from rooftop owners.
Nice job here of Paul running down all of the things that these loonies thought were going to ruin their experience. Â The only things that stay consistent with this franchise are that the team is going to suck and the fans are dumb as a plank.
Will the influx of patio dwellers change the bleacher atmosphere for good? Shockley says the “patio-ites” are overwhelming the bleacherites and spend much of the game “looking at Waveland or Kenmore, the opposite direction of what’s going on.”
But he said he’s “realistic” about the changes and believes everyone will get used to the changes.
He’ll get used to it, but he’sÂ going to spend the next three years bitching about it anyway.
But brace yourself. Â One of the bleacher season ticket holders is about to make sense. Â I’m sure he’ll be shunned when they finally reopen.
“At first, everyone was freaking out and screaming bloody murder: ‘This is outrageous, it should be like it was in the ’60s,’ ” Shockley said. “I’m like, ‘No, we (stunk)4 most of the ’60s.’ A lot of people don’t want to move on and upgrade (Wrigley). But, hey, you need revenue to make investments (in the team), and you need more seats for new revenue.
“As far as I’m concerned, they have good baseball management now and we just have to change with the times. It’s like a mom-and-pop store going national. It’s up to you whether to still buy the product or just stay home and pout.”
Oh, they won’t stay home and pout. Â They’ll show up and pout. Â It’s their way.
For better or worse, Wrigley 2.0 is coming, and the bleacher refugees eventually will return to their natural habitat.
Their natural habitat has to be a dung heap someplace.