Reilly, Trump Fall Short in Bid to Renovate Wrigley Field

wrigleyWell, Chicago, it almost happened. You know what I’m talking about, the plans by sportswriter Rick Reilly to buy the Cubs and turn them into a winner by “making necessary improvements” to Wrigley Field.

Turns out that Reilly’s last ESPN column wasn’t just opinion, it was strategy — who knew that Reilly had a partnership already in the works with Donald Trump to do a leveraged buyout of current Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who was only too happy to take Reilly and Trump’s $3 billion to leave the Friendly Confines? Or rather, the “Friendly’s Ice Cream Confines,” which the park would have been re-named under the Reilly/Trump “aggressive revenue raising plan.”

See, Reilly, wizard that he was, had solved the problem that had been vexing the North Side for more than a century — the reason why the Cubs couldn’t win, Reilly wrote, was because they weren’t using Wrigley to its full fiscal potential, thereby robbing the Cubs of necessary income they could use to bolster their lineup. Never mind that the soon-to-be renegotiated TV deals for Cubs games could net the franchise at least equal to the Dodgers’ recent $7 billion 25-year pact. Or that the Oakland A’s somehow managed to win the AL West in 2012 with the next-to-lowest MLB salary total. It was that missing $70 million or so, Reilly said, that would end the goat curses and bring a World Series trophy to Addison and Clark.

You gotta have more bucks to lure the big stars, Reilly reasoned, and the best way to do that was to make some “obvious” changes needed to the ballpark that used to be crammed to the gills no matter how good or bad the team was. Just to recap, some of the highlights of the Reilly/Trump plan were:

— Tearing out the grass field and putting down blue synthetic turf, a la Boise State. Not only would that net a cool $5 million per year from sponsor FieldTurf, but it would also stand up better than grass and dirt for the 40-concert revenue-rich schedule of “old rock stars selling $250 tickets” tour, headlined by Bruce “No Free Tickets” Springsteen.

— The new “Trump-surround” Digitial Scoreboard, which would wrap from foul pole to foul pole in the back of the outfield, soaring 100 feet above the top of the back wall. Replacing the Dallas Cowboys’ TV screen as the world’s largest, the Trump-surround screen was going to be revenue-positive from its launch, thanks to constantly changing display ads and to the $10-per-tweet charge for fans to post messages to the big screen during play. The back of the screen was going to be live too, showing repeated recordings of Trump and Reilly laughing and flipping off anyone who still climbed to the rooftops of surrounding buildings.

— Instead of organ music, the Reilly/Trump plan called for the “world’s biggest collection of iPods,” a number of different-colored versions which would replace the ivy lining the outfield walls. Fans would have been able to pay $10 to request a song, with music playing non-stop at every break in play. During the seventh-inning stretch, the traditional “Take me Out to the Ballgame” break would no longer be live, but instead feature a different hip-hop star doing a rendition of the song in a Intel-sponsored hologram projection every game.

— There was more, of course, like the Budweiser “simple math” scoreboard that was to show only one digit at a time (saving fans all the time and pain of having to actually add the runs scored every inning) and the “BALCO Distance Meter,” which would use lasers to track the flight of every home run hit by the Cubs’ new steroid-powered lineup. No named sponsor was necessary for the “Alderman’s Payoff Race,” where cartoon versions of famous Chicago politicians would push shopping carts full of cash around the bases between innings. Trump and Reilly said the race would simply honor the new “city/stadium leasing agreement,” under which half of the team’s purchase price would be underwritten by city-backed bonds.

Luckily, the deal fell through when Chicagoans stopped laughing hard enough to make it to the polls to defeat the bond measure by the first ever unanimous margin in city elections. Reilly and Trump, of course, redirected their energies to golf, and are now presiding over the “Trump Resort and Spa at Augusta National,” where this year’s Masters tournament will be the first in that event’s history to be played at night, under the lights installed around the entire course.

“We’re confident golf fans will appreciate our eliminating all that stuffy old tradition in favor of exploding scoreboards and comfortable, double-deck seating,” Reilly said. “After all, how can the Masters expect to survive without reaping the obvious ad revenue that’s available? Isn’t that what sports is all about, anyway? To take maximum advantage of fans’ undivided attention? The idea of going to an event to escape the everyday barrage of marketing is as old as gutta percha balls. Masters fans will be happy we’re moving this event to the 21st century.”

The preceding was a special report from our bureau of satire. We now return you to our regular programming.