Spring training is just around the corner, but up north, many Major League Baseball teams are working to finish construction projects in time for the start of the 2017 season. We are taking a look at what teams have been up to this off-season.
In one of the most dramatic changes, at least in terms of the playing field, has been the removal of Tal’s Hill from Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The hill in centerfield has long been a topic of discussion and the decision was made to remove the hill, bring in the center field fence, and construct new fan areas. As was announced in December, plans for the new center field area included new concessions options in the form of Torchy’s Tacos and Shake Shack.
The Astros also announced that there will also be additional seating for fans as well as escalators to make concourse access easier and more convenient. Construction is currently on schedule and will be ready for the team’s home opener on Monday, April 3rd against the Seattle Mariners.
Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, is also looking to upgrade and expand its concessions options. About $18 million dollars was put into an architectural redesign throughout the ballpark including 11 concession stands in the new “First Base Ward” and “Third Base Ward”, two Field Level full-service bars, and a “Local Brews” bar that will have 30 taps serving beer from across the state. The new stands have been rebranded, state-of-the-art equipment has been brought in, and it will allow 33 percent more points of sale to minimize wait times for food and drinks.
Another change has been Northwestern Mutual taking over the former Gehl Club at Miller Park. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in January, it will be a multiyear partnership and will be named the Northwestern Mutual Legends Club. The club will feature an all-you-can-eat buffet prepared by the club chef including a carving station, appetizers, and a gourmet salad selection and will come with two complimentary beers or glasses of wine.
The new partnership will also bring Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to Miller Park. On Saturday and Sunday games, fans can purchase lemonade from a Northwestern Mutual-branded lemonade stand and the gross proceeds will go ALSF to research, treatments, and cures for childhood cancers.
The new Yankee Stadium is tackling a major project by adding more social and family-friendly areas for the 2017 season. This means eliminating about 2,000 bleacher seats that have been replaced with the MasterCard Batter’s Eye Deck and Budweiser Party Decks. As we reported in October, other new areas will be the Sunrun Kid’s Clubhouse which is a 2,850-square-foot playground area, Bullpen Landings, and the AT&T Sports Lounge which features DirectTV service and will have its own bar. In addition to being open for New York Yankees games, the areas will also be open for New York City FC matches in 2017. Construction is still on schedule.
Last but not least are the continuing efforts to upgrade the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. As our Kevin Reichard reported in January, the team is currently in Year Three of the five-year Project 1060. Some of the projects slated for this round of construction include upgraded seating behind home plate, moving the bullpens from the field to underneath the bleachers, new seating will be added near the bullpen space, and restoration work in being done on the Addison Street façade.
According to the Chicago Tribune, there will be an outdoor plaza outside the office building that is expected to be ready in time for the April 10th home opener. Construction has also begun on two projects that will open in 2018. They include the 7,200-suare-foot American Airlines 1914 Club which will be under the seats between the dugouts behind home plate, and the Hotel Zachary across Clark Street.
The Tribune said this seven-story, 238,000-square-foot-mixed-use project will feature a 175-room boutique hotel and will be named for Wrigley Field architect Zachary Taylor David. With all of the new construction projects and development around the ballpark, several reports have come out that the Cubs are looking to expand its reach in the sports world. The Cubs are looking to host an annual college football game at Wrigley, and Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in January that the club wants to host the 2020 All-Star game there as well.
One thing is for sure, once the project is completed, it will give Wrigleyville a whole new look.
Top rendering courtesy Milwaukee Brewers. Yankee Stadium rendering courtesy New York Yankees.
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