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The Weekend Desk Report

"Sluggers World Class Sports Bar and Grill, a cavernous Wrigleyville watering hole, used to spend $20,000 a year on ballpark advertising," the Tribune reports.

"But several years after the Ricketts family bought the Cubs in 2009, that relationship ended.

"All of a sudden, they didn't want our money anymore," said Zach Strauss, co-owner of the 32-year-old family business. "They only want the million-dollar deals."

"Don't get him wrong. Strauss is grateful to the Ricketts family for keeping the Cubs at Wrigley and building a winning team. But there's a lingering wariness."

Sluggers, a Wrigleyville icon that helped build the neighborhood's value, is too downscale for Rickettsville. The already-gentrified neighborhood is getting gentrified again. Call it meta- (or mega-)gentrification.

And who will benefit most from changes underway? The Ricketts family.

"Indeed, an uneasiness pervades the neighborhood around the 102-year-old ballpark, where the grinding and clanking of construction equipment is a constant reminder that radical change is coming to an area long known as a rough-around-the-edges mishmash of sports bars, convenience stores and fast-food joints for those on beer budgets."

Well, that's not really true. Wrigleyville hasn't been a beer-budget neighborhood for at least two decades. If you can find an Old Style in any of the establishments around the ol' ballpark, it's only ironically. But the neighborhood still isn't grand enough for the Ricketts' tastes.

"Wrigleyville does the bar business pretty well," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney told the Trib. "What's missing - and particularly for our professional clients, our corporate guys - is, 'Where do I take a client to dinner before the game? Where can I go afterward and have a cocktail but also a conversation and maybe not fight a large crowd?"

Because the Cubs experience, now that they're good and fashionable, is for corporate guys and clients now. And when you're wining and dining for your hedge fund, who wants to fight large crowds of the merely affluent?

"And so our vision is to create a little bit of a different feel for Wrigleyville north of Addison, where it becomes more of a white-tablecloth experience, something with a little upper-end feel to it," he said.

And those whose undying fandom built the franchise's value beyond any ordinarily reasonable amount can go to hell.


"No one has ever had to work harder for the right to spend $750 million in private dollars in the city of Chicago than the Rickettses," said "family spokesman" Dennis Culloton, from a wahmbulance steaming down an undisclosed suburban street.

Go read the rest - and weep.

Wrigleyville Roots
Wrigleyville used to be, basically, Wicker Park. Before Wicker Park became Lincoln Park. Which used to be Wicker Park. In other words, it used to be cool. And developers, marketers and posers can never just leave cool alone; it's in their DNA to ruin it because they can identify it, but they can never understand it.

From Rolling Stone in September:

You really go out of your way to visit there for two reasons: Cubs games and shows at the Metro, the area's long-running venue that has played host to everybody from Metallica in 1983 to Nirvana in 1989 and nearly every important Chicago band or artist from Ministry at the dawn of the city's burgeoning industrial music scene to Chance the Rapper in 2016. Joe Shanahan, who opened the venue in 1982, remembers a time when he needed to be escorted by security to his car after a late-night. Not so much because of the fans, but because it was a neighborhood in a big city in the 1980s. "It was scary," he says of his early days turning the former Swedish Community Center built in 1927. "But it was inexpensive."

(Shanahan went on to co-found the Double Door in Wicker Park when that neighborhood, and Wrigleyville, were changing in their own ways; now the Double Door is getting mega-gentrified out to Logan Square, where the gentrification movie is already in its final reel. Also, there's a reason why Lounge Ax, which many music denizens feel was the finest music club this city has known, was located in Lincoln Park, across from Wax Trax, and died an ignominious death there.)


Back to Rolling Stone:

"Like any neighborhood in any American city that has drawn certain subcultures - from hippies flocking to Haight-Ashbury in the late-1960s to various neighborhoods across Lower Manhattan where all kinds of punks, burgeoning art stars and other weirdos moved to in the 1970s - Wrigleyville was a place with cheap rent that just happened to be situated around the ballpark of Major League Baseball's most notoriously pitiful team."

Me, during last year's playoffs:

"It was like all the street romance of a Bruce Springsteen song, 81 times a year - if you knew the lore, of course. And no other team had the lore of the Cubs. It was like the living embodiment of "Deacon Blues" - a team for the losers of the world who lived by a different set of values where winning wasn't everything. Wrigley Field was where the game was beautiful, and that was the thing. It wasn't that fans of my ilk didn't want to win, but that, like in life, the quality of the experience - and its inclusion of everybody who appreciated it - was of far more value. It was a team for those who despise the jockocracy. Not all Cubs fans fit this profile; not even close. But those who did and who loved baseball gravitated to the team, the ballpark and the real live literary glory that came with it. It was no coincidence that the alt-nation to come was filled with Cubs fans; we found each other as surely as we found the Replacements. (A college friend used to wear a South Side Cubs Fan t-shirt; a colleague at The Minnesota Daily swore off McDonald's after 1984; The only cool person to ever appear on The Real World was skateboarder chick Sarah, whose frequently worn Cubs tee was as much a signifier as a Yo La Tengo record.)"


Back to Rolling Stone:

"Somehow, almost inexplicably, the neighborhood that catered to drunk sports fans there to see their Cubbies lose another day game (Wrigley Field didn't have lights for night games until 1988) also became a punk-friendly area. The Metro is a few blocks up on Clark, and the Cubby Bear sit directly across the street from the stadium. The latter bar played host to a number of punk and hardcore bands in the 1980s, from Discharge and Sham 69, to locals like Big Black, Articles of Faith and a Naked Raygun show that also happened to be the first punk show ever attended by a kid named Dave Grohl (who was in town visiting family). Sports fans and punks making a specific neighborhood a destination for their respective groups - you don't really hear of that very often . . .

"[T]he area embraced its strange side. Up the street into the Lakeview neighborhood, you had The Alley, a store that opened in the late 1970s and served as sort of a mini-mall for all things counter culture, from punk and metal to goth and whatever else was popular at the given moment. The store took over its corner on Clark and Belmont, circling a Dunkin' Donuts that would famously become a spot for local punks to gather before and after shows, earning the nickname Punkin' Donuts. In 1991, Chicago Comics would open up between The Alley and Wrigley Field, remaining to this day one of the best comic shops in the city. Clark Street from Belmont to The Metro became sort of a thoroughfare for people looking for everything from bullet belts to bongs . . . "

"You know the story: people living on the fringe make the area seem attractive to people with money, the people with money move in and, soon to follow are the bars with 20 televisions all showing sports. Wrigleyville, already a strange neighborhood because of its cozy little ballpark and the cursed team that plays there, somehow seemed like a decent fit for a bunch of outcasts. It was normal to end up at the McDonald's across the street from the ballpark and see kids from whatever show let out ordering Big Macs alongside sloshed baseball fans. It was awkward, but both groups were strange in their own way: kids with the funky hairstyles and clothes, and the baseball fans that would cheer for a team that they know will only disappoint."

As the author notes, the old, weird Wrigleyville is long gone. Now the frat boys and junior account managers are getting a taste of their own bad medicine; square Wrigleyville is giving way to white-tablecloth Wrigleyville. May the curse be broken so some of us oldhead Cubs fans can finally move on.

Cubs Law
"For a lesson in how to deal with the burden of the past, the Cubs could do worse than to look to its own in-house legal department and its lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis and DLA Piper. The renovation and expansion of historic Wrigley Field has been a key element of the Cubs' comeback strategy, but the entire project was threatened by the team's legal history and the uniqueness of its 102-year-old ballpark, which in addition to being designated a city landmark is located in a residential neighborhood," The American Lawyer reported in September.

"Fortunately for the Cubs, its legal team is nothing like the Lovable Losers of yesteryear. Its lawyers are close to a sweep of wins at City Hall, a local landmark commission and federal court. Wrigley has already undergone or received approval for most of the planned changes, including the installation of two giant, controversial video screens in the outfield. In September, a federal judge in Chicago again ruled in the team's favor after owners of buildings near Wrigley, who sell tickets for rooftop views into the stadium, sought to revive a suit over the video boards that had been dismissed in 2015.

"The Cubs' grand plan was put in place shortly after the Ricketts family in 2009 bought the Cubs from the Tribune Co. for a reported $900 million. The family says that the investments were necessary to keep Wrigley safe and to add advertising revenue to support a competitive team on the field."

If you believe that, I've got a not-at-all-fake box seat ticket to tonight's game to sell you.

Beachwood Sports Radio: Cubs - And Us - On The Brink
Including: Players Performing Playoffy; Keys To Kyle Vs. Clayton, and; Problematic Pitching Problems. Plus: Jay Cutler's Thumb Vs. Johnny Manziel's Drinking Problem and Your World Champion LA Sparks.

Cubs Baseball Is On The Air!
Kimmel, Guillermo, Tomasulo, and how to sync local radio with national TV.

Cubs Retweet: Bringing It All Back Home
Starring Yogi Hendricks.

Why They Don't Run Like Mad On Jon Lester
Someone should put these to music.


Beachwood Photo Booth: House Rule
Teach Love.

Tweeting The Bears: QB 911
"This team is completely broken."

ACLU Demands Secret U.S. Court Reveal Secret U.S. Laws
"The people of this country can't hold the government accountable for its surveillance activities unless they know what our laws allow."

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Kobanes, Helado Negro, Mick Jenkins, Prodigy (of Mobb Deep), Bob Weir, Tesseract, Anthony Janas, Jeremiah Fisher, Cute Is What We Aim For, Schenay Mosley, Papadosio, In The Whale, and Yandel.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The spookiest time of the year is upon us. To celebrate Halloween, Jim and Greg turn the show over to listeners who share the songs that tingle their spines the most. Plus, they share their thoughts on Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize and review the latest from singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen."


Weekend BeachBook

Jim Beam Workers Approve New Contract.


Voices From Wells Fargo - And The Rest Of The American Workplace.


UN Decries Global Assault On Freedom Of Expression.


Thank God Candy Corn Is On The List.


Weekend TweetWood




Sometimes you just gotta tip your cap.


I'm old enough to remember when libraries were co-located with schools.



The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Worldwide pants.


Posted on October 22, 2016

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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