As we reported two weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs are in the midst of planning an extensive overhaul to Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, releasing conceptual drawings at this weekend's fan festival.
The Ricketts ownership is proposing a $300-million renovation of the historic ballpark, which opened in 1914, as part of a larger plan that would include a public plaza along Clark and south of Waveland, as well as the demolition of a McDonald's to make way for a new 175-room hotel. In addition, the concourses and suites would be expanded, while the exterior of the ballpark would be stripped away and restored to a retro feel. Grandstand concrete -- some 50 tons worth -- would be removed and new seating installed. Construction would begin in 2014, and the team would bear all costs of the renovation.
The changes are fairly extensive and overhaul virtually every part of the Friendly Confines. At this time the team is not seeking public assistance for the project, but it will require city approval because the structure is a protected building. Here are some highlights from the team's announcement:
Overhaul of the clubhouses and workout facilities. This is an upgrade very few fans will see, but a key one if the Cubs are going to attract and retain free agents. The current home clubhouse is Spartan, to say the least. This will be the first project tackled by the team; the home clubhouse will see huge changes and the visitors' clubhouse some minimal changes. The Cubs will also be installing batting cages.
Public plaza at Clark and Waveland. The so-called "triangle building" is dead. This building would have contained parking and team offices; it dates back to the former Wrigley 2014 plan proposed by previous Cubs ownership. Instead, the team will install an open-air plaza that can be used for skating in winter and various events in the summer.
Signage and videoboard. According to the team, a fan survey indicated support for more videoboard at the ballpark. Last season a new videoboard was installed in right field; a new one is planned for left field, with the small LED board under the center-field scoreboard set to be removed. The same survey indicated support for an additional videoboard somewhere in the outfield. The issue: potentially blocking the view of a rooftop bleacher section.
New restaurants. Two new dining establishments are planned: one in the old team offices behind home plate and another behind first base. In addition, a new patio section akin to the one installed in right field is planned for left field, next to the foul pole.
Club-level expansion. A new lounge is planned for the area underneath the press box (shown below).
Bathrooms: Yes, the bathrooms at Wrigley Field are horrendous: troughs for the men and too few toilets for the women. The team is significantly increasing facilities for both sexes.
Among the most controversial changes: the addition of more advertising and seating to the outfield area, which could affect the views from the rooftop seating across the street from the ballpark. The Cubs are in the midst of a 20-year deal with the apartment owners in a revenue-sharing plan, a deal reached after years of contentious negotiations. Some of the rooftop bleachers could end up being converted to ad boards, with the team and the owners sharing revenues.
More renderings from the team:
Renderings courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.
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