One huge reason for the Wrigley Field renovations was the need to upgrade the ballpark’s horrendous restroom conditions — a need that was highlighted after two restrooms failed in last night’s season opener.
Opening Day at a ballpark like Wrigley Field, to be blunt, is always a mixed bag; it’s amateur hour in terms of fans and their devotion to baseball, especially for a Cubs game where many, many folks decide to down as many beers and mixed drinks as possible before actually settling into their seats for the first pitch. All that beer needs to go somewhere, and after two upper-level bathrooms failed, fans headed to the concourse to hit the remaining open bathrooms. There’s probably a formula restroom engineers use to calculate needed capacity — something involving beer consumption, bladder size, men vs. women, with a multiple used to estimate peak capacity around the third inning or so — but it sounds like the crowd at Wrigley Field last night blew past peak capacity, forcing many to use beer cups and poorly lit corners as a substitute. From Yahoo Sports:
Instead, the stands buzzed with the same conversation throughout the upper deck and lower concourse: How long did you have to wait?
A 35-year-old fan named Daniel Diaz tried to take a picture of the crowd outside the men’s bathroom in the upper deck. “If I used panorama mode,” Diaz said, “I couldn’t have gotten the whole line in it.” Diaz and his girlfriend, Lynda Gallico, ran into the same issue: Bathroom closings created a bottleneck at open ones, causing them and others to miss multiple innings at a time waiting in line.
“We don’t need marble walls, marble floors, white-glove attendants handing you gum and perfume and towels,” Diaz said. “No, just give me a hole to [pee] in. A mud hut.”
Of course, in the best of times you don’t have white-glove attendants at Wrigley Field; you have some very old bathroom facilities in sore need of upgrade. As noted, that’s definitely part of The 1060 Project, the overall Wrigley Field renovation plan. But folks need to pee now, and the Cubs are responding with porta-potties and apologies. From Julian Green, the hard-working vice president of communications for the Cubs:
“With 35,000 fans showing up in the ballpark, we were simply not prepared to handle guests during peak periods. We have high standards for service and we missed the mark last night.
“We want to apologize to our fans for the huge inconvenience. Moving forward we plan to supplement the existing restrooms with additional portable units and will continue to monitor wait times to ensure we can service our guests appropriately.”
We couldn’t make it down to the opener, but it did look fairly impressive on television: the team may have underperformed (don’t think the presence of Kris Bryant would have made much of a difference, however; sorry, Scott Boras), but the Ernie Banks tribute in the form of bleacher covers was nice, and obviously the addition of Joe Maddon has injected some life into the fan base base. We’ll hold off on evaluating the scoreboard additions until the bleacher renovations are done.
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