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Wednesday, July 24

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Basketball Fri Apr 11 2008

Wrigley Land-marked Up?

To some, it’s probably akin to spray-painting your name on The Vatican. That’s the high regard that some baseball purists, and even casual fans, have regarding Wrigley Field. Words like “shrine” and “temple” are often bandied about when talk about Wrigley in the context of ballpark esthetics comes up. Even when Cubs teams throughout the years stank up the joint something fierce, there was always those appealing bricks and ivy to make stench palatable. Even quite a few White Sox fans have had to admit that in the era of whiz-bang, high-tech, Corporate-Name-Of-The-Month ballparks, Wrigley is a gem. Well, except for Ozzie.

So it’s not without a little bit of consternation that Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin questions the latest addition to the ballpark: the letters “CBOE” painted on in bright yellow letters on a new section of ground-level seats that the Chicago Board Options Exchange is sponsoring this year.

The lettering, located on the wall between the Cubs’ dugout and the left field bullpen, raises the question of whether this bit of advertising violates City of Chicago landmark ordinance.

According to Kamin, the ordinance states that the brick wall “in its entirety, circling the playing field (i.e., along the foul lines, behind home plate, and the outfield wall, including the ivy)” is protected area. When contacted, city officials said they weren’t aware of the new advertising and are seeking more information from the Cubs.

The Chicago Tribune’s Senior Vice President in charge of the Cubs, Crane Kenny, said the “sticker”(his words) is no different than the advertising on the outfield doors. However, the doors, Kamin says, are not protected under the ordinance.

Is a relatively modest ad plastered on a relatively out-of-the-way section of the ballpark the crime of the century? Hardly. And after nearly 100 years of….well, nothing, should anyone really care? Maybe, maybe not. Given the choice between four letters painted on a section of Wrigley Field wall or watching Derek Lee dump champagne over the head of Lou Pinella in October, it’s a safe bet that nearly all Cubs fans would opt for the latter.

But after the bleacher expansion, corporate sponsorship of the bleachers (along with the appropriate signage), the installation of advertising mechanisms behind home place and talk of renaming the entire ballpark, how long before Wrigley Field is no longer “Wrigley Field”?

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