Analyzing the Cubs' Image of a Renovated Wrigley Field

by Thomas Young July 10, 2014

Looking closely at the "restored" Wrigley Field . . .

It’s interesting to really take a close look at the Cubs’ image of a renovated Wrigley at the top of this post (larger image here.

I’m a graphic designer, and so I know that nothing that goes into a publicity/promotions/sales image (and don’t fool yourself; that’s exactly what this is) happens by accident. Here are a few things that I noticed about this one:

1) We’ll call it Patriotism: American flags on the ribbon boards in left and right field, appealing to the Baseball + Mom’s Apple Pie = AMERICA! Right off, you’re feeling like the Cubs love America! That’s great! So do I! I must love the Cubs!

2) Cubs leading the NL Central: The flags atop the traditional center field scoreboard have the Cubs in 1st place, followed by the Pirates, with Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers further down. This is highlighted to catch the eye (perhaps subliminally) by the Cubs flag waving in the opposite direction of the prevailing wind: the American flag directly above the Cubs flag and all other standings flags are waving in a mild left-to-right breeze. The Cubs (and Pirates) are simultaneously blowing in a fairly brisk right-to-left breeze. I know the winds swirl a bit out there, but this is probably not an accident.

3) Speaking of the Cardinals: That’s who the Cubs are playing – and beating – in this image. Of course. You’re always going to depict your team crushing the rival in your marketing materials. It’s hard to make out the score (even using Photoshop to blow up and enhance the image), but it looks like it could be an 8-2 Cubs’ lead in the bottom of the 7th.

Not only that, but a baseball eye will also catch that the Cardinals are intentionally depicted in a less-than-flattering light on the field. Maybe it’s because I’ve been coaching little league for 8 years, and watching baseball for almost 40, but instinctively, this should look wrong to anyone who watches a lot of baseball. The Cardinals’ pitcher (I’m not going to conjecture if the Cubs are trying to depict a particular player, although anyone familiar with the Cards’ hurlers might recognize that delivery) is mid-pitch, less than half a second from delivering the ball. As anyone who has played, coached, or watched a lot of baseball will tell you (or remembers the Starlin Castro ESPN flack a couple of years ago), when the pitcher is in his motion, the defensive players should be on their toes, bent over, gloves down between the knees, anticipating the ball.

The third baseman is leisurely strolling towards the foul line. The shortstop is standing erect, feet planted, knees locked, hands apart. If this guy were on my little league team, I’d bench him for standing like that at short. The second baseman is a little better; at least he appears to be aware that there’s a baseball game going on. The first baseman is down in “baseball ready” position, but why is he playing off the bag with the Cubs’ runner taking such a huge lead?? The left and center fielders are not bad, but the guy in right is standing at attention towards the left-field corner.

One mistake on the image is that, while the Cubs are in their traditional home whites, the Cubs’ first base coach is in their alternate homes: white pants with blue jersey. What the heck?! More Cubbie blue for the image, I guess! Speaking of blue . . .

4) The Blues: While the on-field people are CGI, I think the background source image that this is built on is an actual gameday photograph from the press box, meaning all of those fans are real people. But some industrious Photoshopper went in there and added a ton of Official Cubs Blue caps and shirts in the crowd. Especially in the section off third base just past the Cubs’ dugout and the back of the lower level above first. And about every fourth person in the bleachers has a nice touch of blue added.

5) Keeping the Sponsors Happy: Of course UnderArmour is featured prominently, but an interesting thing in the bottom right-hand corner is an added (not part of the original photograph) out-of-focus portion of the upper deck that is “cutting off” part of the lower deck. This is perhaps to show the new railing for the upper deck, but more likely to show off all of the Nike-branded cupholders for each seat.

6) People Helping People: Not all of the marketable signage is yet sold, so they Cubs are actually pulling a two-fer here: “CUBS CHARITIES” is the big script sign in left field and also atop the right-field electronic board. This makes the Cubs look super charitable — two very prominent reminders — but also shows sponsors where and how their names can be featured at Wrigley. Dollars to Donuts says those signs do not end up saying “Cubs Charities” but rather some watery American beer or automobile. (Same goes for the script “Wrigley Field” atop the video board and the bleacher boxes and the script “Cubs” to the right of the video board. Or anyplace you see “Cubs” or “Wrigley Field” is an opportunity for corporate sponsorship, including the other three green roll-up doors in the ivy wall and the giant “walking bear” C down the right field line.)

7) The Future: Starlin is at bat, with a prominent headshot and decent (although surprisingly not more inflated) set of stats up on the video board. This image was clearly made when Starlin was being groomed to be the face of the franchise. I wouldn’t be surprised if next year when more renderings come out if he is replaced by one of the other new young phenoms. Starlin does have a 3-1 count (in baseball parlance “a hitter’s count”) and no outs with that runner way off first base. This pitch is clearly going to be a big play for the Cubs.

8) Other things I’m not sure of: As I said, this is a marketing image, and nothing was left to chance. There are a few things in here that are very clearly meant to register (at least subconsciously) on Cubs fans, but I’ not sure what the meaning is. I’m sure some of you can figure them out: 
   - The white “LAST CALL” billboard across Sheffield in right field. That’s a very clear message. Anyone know what?
   - The red Cubs “press box” awning on the new green fence in front of the red brick building down the left field line across Waveland. Maybe just a camera position? It’s certainly SOMETHING.

Anyway, perhaps I’m looking at this all too closely. I don’t mean to go all Zapruder Film on this. But this isn’t just a photo of Wrigley Field with a few new touches added in. Every pixel of this is a well-crafted sales presentation. I’m actually genuinely curious as to why the Cubs’ first base coach is in the alternate jersey. I’m sure a team of designers worked on this image for weeks. That’s not something that should have been missed. Either it was just missed (in which case, Cubs graphic arts team, I’m available to join your design team as a proofer!) or it was intentional. Which makes me wonder . . . WHY? Which again gets into conspiracy theories, so I open the floor to you for your guess.

Sorry. Too obscure? I found it interesting. Maybe someone out there will, too.

Bottom line: LET’S GET THIS RENOVATION DONE
Or, at least, started. 
I’m frankly more excited about the refurbishments to the outside of the park: the removal of the hideous pre-fab concrete siding, the restoration of brickwork and the beautiful green metalwork to replace the ratty chain-link fences. I cannot WAIT
I couldn’t care less about a video board. I get that the Cubs need additional revenue streams, and I don’t begrudge them that. They seem to be doing it in a tasteful, classy way. Let’s be grateful for that.
Let’s restore Wrigley to the grand old ballpark it is.

Play Ball!

 

This blog post was originally written as a comment on the blog bleedcubbieblue.com. You can see the original post here:

http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/2014/7/9/5885395/cubs-wrigley-renovation-plans





Thomas Young
Thomas Young

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1 Response

Brian
Brian

November 21, 2014

I think the 1B coach is just wearing a jacket.

“Last Call” is on the Miller Lite billboard. May be a reference to the Cardinals (bird calls) or a reference to the fact that the billboard may be blocked by the new bleachers, so it’s “last call” for Miller to advertise (Budweiser is a Cubs sponsor).

The red “press box” is a party deck I believe.

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