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Wrigley Field bleachers won’t be ready until May

New Wrigley Field rendering

Renovation of the fabled bleachers at Wrigley Field won’t be done until May, while Daktronics landed the contract to install the new LED boards at the Chicago Cubs home.

The announcement of the construction delays was made by Cubs ownership at this past weekend’s Cubs Convention. The left- and center-field bleachers are currently scheduled to open May 11, while the right-field bleachers are set to open at the end of the month.

That the project would bleed into the regular season isn’t a surprise; the team announced earlier it was making contingency plans for accommodating bleacher patrons in April and May. But the announcement that construction could extend into May and possibly June is still surprising. Part of the issue is normal construction difficulties — concrete needs to cure, it has to be above freezing to work with some parts of the bleachers — but it seems a little incredulous that the Cubs ownership didn’t have an idea weeks and weeks ago that opening the new bleachers before the middle of May would be extremely challenging. (Case in point: changes in the construction plan were being made as late as Dec. 2.) From the Chicago Tribune:

“There’s incentive to get it done as soon as possible, but you got to do it the right way,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said after addressing fans at the Cubs Convention….

The Cubs couldn’t place a steel order for the bleachers until they received approval from local authorities because Wrigley Field is under landmark status. The steel earmarked for the bleachers is expected to arrive early next month, Kenney said.

The temperature must be 35 or above for about 28 days before bolts, railings and safety equipment can be installed into the concrete in the bleachers. The right-field section will experience more delays because access to Sheffield Avenue was delayed by sewer work stemming from an old water main that took longer than expected to repair, Kenney said.

One more bit of bad news: the wireless system may not be ready at all in 2015.

Meanwhile, Daktronics will install the new LED boards at Wrigley Field.

The new display in left field will measure 42 feet high by 95 feet wide and the new display in right field will measure 29 feet high by 71 feet high. These two displays will feature variable content zoning which allows them to show one large image to highlight live video and instant replays. Each display can also be separated into multiple zones to show any combination of scoring information, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations, and sponsor messaging and advertising.

“Daktronics are proven leaders in the sports industry providing best in class systems and reliable service to several teams in professional sports,” said Carl Rice, vice president, Ballpark Operations, Chicago Cubs. “We are happy they will serve as our partner as we look to develop content and programming that enhance the game-day experience while reflecting the history and tradition of our great ballpark.”

As part of the agreement, Daktronics and Cubs Charities will provide additional standard scoreboards with control systems to local youth baseball fields as part of Cubs Charities’ Diamond Project. The Diamond Project provides funds to non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations to support capital improvement projects that improve the quality, safety and accessibility of local baseball fields or indoor training facilities. Both parties are looking forward to this unique opportunity to deliver these additional scoreboards to the most deserving baseball fields in the Chicago community. ​

Additionally, Wrigley Field will receive two outfield fascia wall displays measuring 6 feet high by 74.5 feet wide, two ribbon displays measuring 3.5 feet high by 180 feet wide – one along the first baseline and one along the third baseline – and two pitch displays along the first and third baselines measuring 3.5 feet high by 14.5 feet wide. All of these displays can show versatile content to supplement the main video displays, highlight out-of-town scores and statistics, showcase sponsors throughout the game and feature a multitude of other game information. ​

All LED video displays being installed at Wrigley Field will feature premier outdoor technology with a 13HD pixel layout to provide crisp, clear imagery with brightness to cut through direct sunlight. Wide angle visibility of the displays will appeal to fans throughout the ballpark.

“Daktronics is honored to have this opportunity to partner with the Chicago Cubs for such a monumental undertaking at 100-year-old Wrigley Field,” said Daktronics CEO Reece Kurtenbach. “We pride our business on providing our customers with solutions that fit their needs, but also solutions that fit their facility. I’m confident that this installation will complement the aura of Wrigley Field by paying homage to the nostalgia of Cubs baseball and excite their fan-base at the same time.”

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