New Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and crew are bypassing the ambitious Wrigley 2014 renovation plan for now and will instead work on a series of cosmetic changes costing far less — but at some point the long-term viability of the Friendly Confines must be addressed.
New Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and crew are bypassing the ambitious Wrigley 2014 renovation plan for now and will instead work on a series of cosmetic changes to Wrigley Field costing far less — but at some point the long-term viability of the Friendly Confines must be addressed.
This season the Cubs will be investing $10 million in various upgrades to Wrigley Field. Most are needed, but apparently the decision was made to put off on any decision regarding the long-standing Wrigley 2014 plan prepared by Populous. This renovation plan would have addressed the many structural issues with Wrigley Field while leaving the basic character of the historic ballpark intact. Much of the work would focus on a renovated suite level, while all fans would have access to improved concourses, concessions and restrooms.
At one time it was priced at $250 million; that number surely needs to be updated.
The plan also called for a five-story triangular structure next to the ballpark, containing team offices, retail, parking and group space.
The Cubs have announced their ballpark improvements for 2010, and some of the Wrigley 2014 items are included. Renovations of the restroom facilities will take place, as well as a revamping of grandstand concessions to allow more fans to move from one end of the ballpark to the other. More womens’ stalls will be added. Six suites are being combined into a party suite, complete with corporate sponsor; access will be sold on a season-ticket basis, rather than by the game.
The exterior concrete slabs at the ballpark are being removed, giving fans in the grandstand a clear view of downtown.
In shades of Fenway Park, the area underneath the right-field bleachers is being opened up and turned into a party area, complete with concessions and scads of flat-screen TVs. Windows will be installed to allow fans to watch players warming up in the bullpen.
Player facilities are being expanded, with a new weight room installed in the old umpires’ room and the old weight room converted into a lounge.
These changes are all great — and we’ll be eager to see them in action this summer — but they’re minor in the face of the many challenges facing the ballpark as enters its second century of use. Surely Ricketts has some sort of longer-range plan in mind; we hope he budgeted for it in coming years.
Our old college classmate David “Kap” Kaplan — now a great sport-talk host on WGN Radio — is hailing the renovations as a great plan for Wrigley Field. Perhaps. But at some point the basic issues with Wrigley Field will need to be addressed, and in these cases sooner is always better than later.
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