Beth Murphy is a lifelong Cubs fan and the owner of Murphy’s Bleachers in Wrigleyville. She is also the spokeswoman for the rooftop owners who have opposed elements of Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts’ $300 million Wrigley Field renovation plan. They claim his plan, which calls to add a Jumbotron and other revenue-generating signage, would be detrimental to their business and would violate the contract they have with the club. Ricketts said publicly at a meeting of the City Club last week that if his plan wasn’t approved, he would consider moving the team out of the historic 99-year-old ballpark.
I’ve gone to Wrigley Field since I was a child. I used to walk over to the ballpark and wait in line to go to the bleachers. It was kind of the thing to do. They had a very charismatic team and a team, for the first time in decades, that looked like it was going to be successful. I remember a day in 1967 when the Cubs went into first place and all of a sudden people started to clap and it was a very exciting moment. In 1969, we just thought the Cubs were going to be in the World Series and I didn’t have any question about it. I don’t think I spoke for the entire month of September and I went into shock because that was not going to happen. Then the same thing happened to me in 1984 and then in 2003. How many times can you be fooled by this? But they keep sucking me in. So Wrigley Field for me is lots of memories.
This is unique. This is authentic and it is a very recognizable view of Chicago. People know about the rooftops. We just took someone to the rooftops from Paris. We take people up to the rooftops from Australia. People come and point to the rooftops and that’s what has been a shame about what has been happening. There’s no reason for Cubs fans or anyone else to disparage the rooftops because they really are part of Chicago and a recognizable part of Wrigley Field. They’re different. They’re something nobody else has.
We are neighbors [in Wrigleyville] and Wrigley Field is obviously a big neighbor. We have a tradition as 30-year partners of working with the Cubs, working with the Cubs ownership and solving problems. I wish people could understand that better. We need to work together and come up with solutions. So it’s a little more complicated than saying, ‘They’re the only game in town’ or ‘you knew there was a stadium there.’ It’s more of a give and take. I think the neighborhood is very important to the Cubs’ success – maybe the major element – and I just wish there was a little more consideration there.
My takeaway wasn’t that [Ricketts] was talking about moving [the Cubs], but he was talking about stuff he would like to do at Wrigley Field, so I didn’t grab that headline out of it that he’s threatening to move. But he said that for the first time and so I understand that was a big story. Alderman [Tom Tunney] said he thought [Ricketts’ threat to move the Cubs] was a comment borne out of frustration, and I think there may be an element of truth to that. But I would wonder why they would move because they have something unique to baseball. They have a ballpark in the neighborhood and it draws fans to see the whole of the neighborhood, and [the Cubs] benefit from that.
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