The Chicago Cubs’ season has gotten off to a bumpy start. First, the Cubs angered third-baseman Kris Bryant, his agent, the Major League Players Association and fans by sending Bryant down to the minors for the start of the season, despite a blistering performance during spring training.
Next, the Cubs opened the year at a renovated Wrigley Field without finishing the outfield bleachers, and with far fewer bathrooms than in 2014. Local residents, meanwhile, complained that noise from the stadium on Sunday night was much louder than in the past.
Now, the Cubs have raised fans’ eyebrows again by canceling their second game of the season.
The decision came at mid-day Tuesday, hours before the Cubs were supposed to meet their arch-rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. According to a tweet from the team,
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 7, 2015
Added the Cubs,
A make-up date has yet to be set. Fans are encouraged to retain their tickets from tonight’s postponed game for the rescheduled contest. — Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 7, 2015
That seemed a little fishy.
As WGN put it, “However, some fans remained skeptical Tuesday, saying the team has played in worse conditions before. There has been some speculations that the postponement is more due to the stadium’s ongoing restroom and construction troubles.” The forecast for game time was 45F, with fog and a chance of rain, according to the Weather Channel.
Indeed, Chicagoans are used to bitter weather. Rain and wind-chill rarely interferes with games played by the Chicago Bears.
And, Wrigley was the site of the 2009 Winter Classic, when the Chicago Blackhawks faced the Detroit Red Wings in an outdoor hockey game played in temperatures of 25F.
Brett Taylor at Bleacher Nation spotted the financial implications, noting the next series between Cubs and Cardinals is in July.
Wrote Taylor, “…games in July tend to be better attended (more revenue). And games in July should feature the full bleachers available (more revenue). And games in July might feature Kris Bryant (more sparkle).”
Taylor reported that the Cubs have already responded to the opening night bathroom fiasco.
In a letter to season ticket holders, Cubs Business President Crane Kinney explained,
Unfortunately, current construction has caused a temporary reduction in left-field concourse services, and on Sunday, we experienced a temporary malfunction of existing restrooms in the upper deck. The combination of events led to unacceptable wait times throughout the ballpark. Available restroom facilities in the right-field concourse were not altered from 2014 levels.
Four new restrooms, two women’s and two men’s, in the left-field concourse will be available in late May. Once completed, restroom capacity in the left-field concourse will exceed our 2014 levels.
Beginning tomorrow night, we will supplement existing restrooms with portable units in the left-field concourse and outside Gate K. With these facilities in place, we will have approximately the same number of fixtures as we did at the end of the 2014 season. In addition, we are working with our gameday staff to help coordinate concourse traffic by communicating shortest wait times at all concourse facilities.
Of course, the port-a-potties weren’t needed on Tuesday night, since the game was canceled. They’ll get their test on Wednesday afternoon, which was supposed to be the third game in the series, and which will now be the second.
The Cubs are in the National League spotlight, with a new manager, new players, and hopes they could finally be contenders in 2015. And, what they’re experiencing shows the scrutiny that any MLB team will undergo, when it renovates its stadium or builds a new one.
For story ideas, keep watch on social media for the reaction to moves by teams in your town. And, find the money in sports stories, as Taylor did with the Cubs’ cancellation decision.