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For Immediate Release
April 9, 2014

For more information, contact
David Mihalyov
(585) 395-2577

The Illusion of Tradition

Scholars Day project studies addition of lights to Wrigley Field

Brockport, NY – If then owner Phillip K. Wrigley had his way, Wrigley Field, home of Major league Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, would have had lights in time for the 1942 season. Gianni Zambito ’14, told the story during his presentation, The Illusion of Tradition: The Non-Existent Role of Tradition in the Battle for Lights at Wrigley Field, that Mr. Wrigley was all set to start construction of the lights on December 8, 1941, but the attack on Pearl Harbor the day before changed his mind and he donated the steel from the lights to the war effort.

The Cubs soon became the only major league team to not have stadium lights and the popular sentiment was that day baseball at Wrigley was an unchangeable tradition. A native of Elba, NY, Zambito, is a History major who looked to discern whether tradition truly played a role in the nearly decade-long legal battle to add lights to historic Wrigley Field, which finally took place in August 1988.

Zambito studied surveys and research from the time that showed the primary opposition to lights from the immediate Lake View community centered more on a concern of traffic, noise, and preserving the neighborhood than from the “tradition” of day games at Wrigley. Even those from outside the immediate area were not against adding lights, as it offered greater access to games.

Sharing attendance numbers from 1988-2004, Zambito showed that attendance during night games actually increased by approximately 1,800 fans per game. He indicated the evening games allowed greater opportunities for more people to attend who otherwise couldn’t during day games due to work and family considerations.

Ultimately, Zambito showed, the debate was not economics versus tradition; rather, economics versus the quality and character of neighborhood.

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