SBJ/January 21-27, 2013/Facilities

Cubs outline $300M renovation for Wrigley

The Chicago Cubs have announced plans for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field, a project covering dramatic changes to the ballpark including three new premium clubs and restaurants, two outfield fan decks and an enclosed suite level.

The design concepts are just a few of the upgrades the Cubs have planned over the next few years at a ballpark turning 100 years old in 2014.

At this point, it’s still a wish list because financing has not been approved for the long-awaited project. The Cubs continue working with city officials on a deal to use some public money to help pay for construction, team spokesman Julian Green said.

The most significant changes to the park would
The renderings show the center-field deck (top), proposed for beneath the scoreboard, and the proposed indoor home plate club.
Images by: CHICAGO CUBS (2)
include a new indoor club for season-ticket holders behind home plate, similar to diamond clubs at newer ballparks; another lounge in the upper deck between third base and home plate; and a marquee restaurant in the team’s old administrative offices. Last spring, Cubs officials relocated to a building across the street from Wrigley that the Ricketts family, owners of the team, bought and renovated.

In addition, on the mezzanine level where Wrigley’s 60 suites are situated, the open-air walkway would be covered by glass and the skyboxes expanded in size. The number of suites would remain the same, Green said.

In the outfield bleachers, one of the ballpark’s defining features, the Cubs want to build two fan decks, one in center field beneath the manually operated scoreboard and another adjacent to the lower-level grandstand down the left-field line.

The decks could provide a combination of seats and standing room, according to Cubs renderings.

To build the center-field deck, the Cubs have proposed removing the LED board attached to the scoreboard that has been in place since the 1984 season, Green said. The loss of the electronic sign in center field could be offset by an LED board added in the left-field corner, matching the size of the one built last season in right field below the Budweiser Patio. Feedback from fans surveyed after last season indicated they enjoyed the real-time information on player statistics displayed on the right-field screen, Green said.

One question that remains is whether the Cubs’ renovation plans include the installation of a video board for game highlights. Wrigley Field remains the last facility in major league sports without a primary screen tied to game replays. The team’s renderings do not show a large video screen. Over the past two years, team officials have surveyed about 23,000 season-ticket holders, other Cubs fans and Wrigleyville residents on the video board, among other issues.

“We’re actively exploring the idea,” Green said.

The Cubs also have a plan to reduce congestion by removing all temporary food carts and pushing all concession stands on the main concourse to the field side of the park.

In the upper level, where 25 percent of the park’s seats are situated, the Cubs want to add more food and drink stands and provide more choices for those fans so they don’t have to walk downstairs to get what they need, Green said.

The Cubs were to reveal their updated plan with images on display during last weekend’s Cubs Convention in downtown Chicago.

The $300 million price tag does not cover the Cubs’ development planned outside the park, including a retail and entertainment plaza targeted for the old Triangle Building site.

The Cubs announced last Friday a deal with Starwood Hotels to build a boutique hotel across Clark Street on the site occupied by a McDonald’s. The Ricketts family bought the property for $20 million in December 2011.

Both the plaza and hotel projects are contingent on the city’s approval of the ballpark renovation, team officials said.

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