For years, the traditionalist Chicago Cubs have remained one of four MLB teams that do not employ a mascot. But as part of the proposed five-year, $300-million Wrigley Field renovation plan, that could change.
The Cubs are looking to make the 99-year-old stadium more "kid-friendly," according to the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan -- an aim that could involve adding a mascot, batting cages and radar gun zones, kids apps for smartphones and tablets, a kids section and a new Cubs song to MLB's second-oldest ballpark.
"We've done a couple things just with trying to get better research on our fans, and just being smarter about what our fans want," Cubs senior marketing director Alison Miller said. "We've done a lot of focus groups in the last couple of months."
But Chicago has historically been slow to accept mascots, Sullivan writes, and players like pitcher Jeff Samardzija are hesitant about the potential change.
The idea of a mascot brought pitcher Jeff Samardzija back to his days as a minor league pitcher at Class-A Daytona, where he said fans, players and vendors abused the Cubs mascot on a near daily basis.
"That didn't go over too well," Samardzija said.
But would it work at Wrigley?
"Probably not," he replied. "People aren't going to go to Wrigley Field and want to see a mascot. There are other things people want to see."
Second baseman Darwin Barney argued for the mascot, saying that no matter what changes, Wrigley Field's old-school appeal will endure.
"What would it be?" he asked. "A Cub? A Bear? I think it could go either way. There's something fun about having that at the ballpark during the game. Especially with just organ music, there's not much to keep fans into the games at time."