It was a delightful spring day in Chicago. Sparse clouds floated within an otherwise clear sky, April blossoms brightened the lanes, and the windy city’s famous winds were little more than an insistent breeze. But all was not well in the City by the Lake. The Cubs were hosting a three game series against the Cincinnati Reds, and although they had been doing great on the field throughout the young season, they were taking a beating in the press.
Plans to renovate Wrigley Field had faced several roadblocks. Proposals were met with skepticism by a public protective of the stadium’s legacy. What’s more, the number and placement of new media screens suggested in the plans threatened Wrigley Field’s ability to seek historic landmark designation. Add to that a lawsuit by neighboring rooftop owners claiming the renovations would harm their property values, and the organization was facing a public relations nightmare.
What better way for the Cubs to foster goodwill than to incorporate a longstanding tradition into the renovations?
Since the 1930’s, the Cubs have flown “W” and “L” flags over Wrigley Field, lit up by various color schemes at night, to let the public know the outcome of the most recent game. Lighting up the sponsor’s “W” atop the giant new left-field video board would be a great way to modernize the tradition, while also thanking the fans for their patience with the construction.
It was a fine idea, and with the neighbor’s lawsuit dropped and the plans adjusted to retain contention for historical designation, the timing was perfect for this symbolic move. There was only one problem: it was late afternoon, the final game of the series with Cincinnati was the next day, and their contractor wasn’t going to be able to get it done in time.
That’s when our colleagues at Kelso-Burnett called in Steiner Electric to help. We got the call at 4:30pm and we sent a team from our Automation Products Group the next day, ready to get the job done. When they arrived, they programmed the “W” to light up independent of the rest of the letters in the sponsor’s name, installed a LOGO programmable relay linked to the press box, and did the final testing early that evening as the teams warmed up on the field.
And what a huge game against the Reds to get the “W”! In extra innings, the Cubbies roared back to beat the Reds and the “W” lit up for the first time in the season, shining brightly for all to see; a win-win for all the fans, Kelso-Burnett and for Steiner!