With the 100th anniversary season of Wrigley Field in the books, the Chicago Cubs are preparing for offseason work that will upgrade the facility between now and the 2018 season.
No, there’s no actual work beginning today when it comes to shovels and construction; in fact, the biggest changes of this offseason — installation of a new left-field videoboard and right-field ad sign — haven’t even been let to bid. The first physical work on Wrigley Field upgrades begins next week, when the ballpark walls on Sheffield and Waveland avenues come down, and expansion of the vaunted Wrigley Field bleachers begins. It’s the beginning of the next era of Wrigley Field, where the last MLB ballpark without high-tech extravagances will receive a three-year, $575-million makeover. From the Chicago Tribune:
“In some respects, this is 10 years or more in the making,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. “Throughout all the fits and starts, we’re finally going to be able to save this ballpark. And if you’re going to invest $575 million in this project, it means Wrigley field is going to be here for the next 100 years. It’s pretty cool. It gives you goose bumps.”…
They will be hiring a full-time video-control manager who will oversee the content on a daily basis. A section of seats next to the press box is being removed to house the new video-board room.
Replays and game information obviously will be the most important part of the content, but historical videos and live fan shots are also staples of most ballpark video boards. As for commercials, Green said it was “too soon to tell,” though it seems likely. The Cubs already show commercials on the mini-video board over the right-field outfield wall.
All told, work will take place for the next four offseasons. Some of the work will never be seen by the public, like a new home clubhouse, indoor batting cages and a renovated visitors clubhouse. Some will be welcomed, such as a restoration of the original ballpark exterior, expansion of the grandstand concourse and upgraded bathrooms. Some will be vilified, such as the new videoboard. But we suspect most fans care less about these changes than do the Cubs insiders: as long as the beer is cold, the sun is warm and the ivy is green, a game at Wrigley Field should still be one of the most essential experiences in all of baseball.
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