Cubs query fans on possible Wrigley Field changes

By Paul Sullivan

An informal Tribune poll of Cubs player last spring saw much support for installing a JumboTron either at or outside of Wrigley Field.

“You like to see whether the call was right or wrong, or if it was just a sweet play to watch again,” pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. “You can kind of look back and see the little TVs up on the balcony. I think it’d be nice.

“I’d say get rid of the Horseshoe Casino (rooftop) sign and put one up on that building. That way it’s not even in the field. Or maybe put two up by the lights on top of the awning. Nothing gaudy like Yankee Stadium, where the JumboTron is as big as the whole stadium. You can keep the history and the aura of Wrigley … but it is 2010.”

Now the Cubs are asking their fans if they’d also be in favor of a video-replay board at Wrigley. In a quality assessment survey on the team’s Web site, one of the questions asked was whether fans would like a video replay board that doesn’t “obscure” the current center-field scoreboard, which is protected by landmark provisions.

The Cubs are believed to be the only team in the four major professional sports without a video-replay board. They were the last team without lights before installing them in 1988.

The Cubs aren’t planning on a video board for 2011, but say they are gauging fan interest on a number of topics. Cubs vice-president of business development Alex Sugarman said the team has been doing the survey most of the year, and this is simply an “extension” of that.

“It’s a lot of hypotheticals, very much information gathering,” Sugarman said.

The survey will be available for another month on the Web site, and Sugarman said the results will be kept internal. That means fans may not know whether most of them are in favor of any of the topics, which also include the possibility of a phone app to view replays and “relevant digital content,” and allowing night games to be scheduled for “occasional” Friday and Saturday games.

The Cubs have argued that the team needs some Friday night games after returning late Thursday night from a road trip and having to play on short rest.

As for the phone app, the Cubs brought the idea up at the Cubs Convention last January, where a team spokesman explained they had trouble with wireless access for AT&T in 2009 at Wrigley because squirrels ate through the wires providing access.

The squirrel problem has since been resolved.

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