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As we await details on the planned renovation of Wrigley Field – your 20 second overview: it’s probably going to happen in the next few years, it’s probably going to be partly funded by the city/state/county and partly by the Cubs (via increased advertising and street fairs), it’s probably going to cost a total of $500 million, and it’s probably going to include the Triangle Building – it’s worth considering yet another reason to hope that things get underway soon.

The renovation isn’t just about making Wrigley Field a better, more sustainable experience for fans, but also about improving the neolithic facilities with which Cubs players and staff have to work. Why is that such a big deal? Well, not only does it put the Cubs at a competitive disadvantage on the field year to year, but it also puts them at a disadvantage on the free agent market.

Why? Because free agents know what it’s like to play at Wrigley Field. To wit, Cole Hamels’ thoughts.

“[A renovation at Wrigley Field] will impact players,’’ Hamels told Gordon Wittenmyer earlier in the week, “because we’ve all played there and realize how brutal the facilities are. I don’t think fans know how much time we spend in the clubhouse and how much time we spend at the field. And when you don’t have adequate equipment or facilities — you want to know that they’re trying to make it comfortable for you because you’re at the field more than you’re at home.

“You’ve got to make it nice, because if you do, players are going to want to be there. They’re going to want to come to the organization. You’re going to have players that would think on the lines of, ‘Hey, do I go to a Yankees organization that has all the money and great facilities, or do I go to the Cubs, who are finally building the good stuff.’ And I think that’s where you can finally get the top players.”

Hamels saved the most stark evaluation for last.

“As a fan [Wrigley Field] is one of the coolest stadiums I’ve ever been to. As a player, it’s one of the worst. So if they can change that over, then they’re going to get a lot of great players to come there.’’

Ouch.

Let that sink in: Wrigley Field is one of the worst places to play baseball. Other teams’ players – and probably Cubs players, too – think the facilities at Wrigley are “brutal.” The allure of Chicago and playing for the Cubs is great, but if it’s always neutered by the prospect of having to play, train, recover, and stay in shape at Wrigley Field? I can see why some big timers might shy away unless the Cubs blow other offers out of the water.

So, if you’re even remotely on the fence about the urgent necessity of a renovation at Wrigley Field, let this serve as your tipping point.

On the plus side, once the renovation are complete – hell, once they’re underway – the Cubs will suddenly have a bonus selling point on coming to the Cubs. Play on an historic team, in an historic ballpark. Play in a wonderful city. Play for passionate, knowledgeable fans. Be a part of the first team to win it all for the Cubs in over 100 years. *AND* take advantage of some of the most state-of-the-art, top-notch facilities in all of baseball.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

  • Wayne

    As a fan I was able, along with 100s of others, able to tours the clubhouse, etc and I must say it is time to upgrade those areas for our players. I’ve had the luxury of touring many of the newest East coast stadiums and their clubhouses make ours look pedestrian at best.

  • JB88

    Yes, quite.

    I am literally fascinated to see how they actually make the facilities better for the players. There is simply no room for a modern bullpen or dedicated batting cages within the actual confines of Wrigley. If they can somehow incorporate that into the Triangle Building’s footprint, that would seem to be best, but lordy, I just am so curious to see how the engineering shapes up on the reno.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Are the plans to build the new facilities under left field still on the table?

    • hansman1982

      most likely they will be underground facilities. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if as soon as the funding deal is done, the Cubs immediately begin work on that portion of the rennovation.

      • JB88

        That’s a no-brainer. They need to get the plans together and those plans will likely cost well in excess of $2MM, so it isn’t like they are going to pay for those until they know what sort of funding they have available.

        Even if they go underground for clubhouses and facilities, that doesn’t address what they do about batting cages and other facilities. I think they are going to have to utilize some of the triangle space for that sort of thing. Or, perhaps after they move the locker rooms under the field, they’ll move the batting cages to where the former locker rooms are.

        In any event, with a finite blueprint, it will be really interesting to see how the Cubs renovate. And, fans should realize that a ton of money is going to be dropped on engineering the solution, especially if they go underground. IOW, I don’t think fans are going to think the return was worth $500MM because it wouldn’t surprise me to see over $100MM of that money simply spent in fortifying the foundation of the park if they go subterranean with the improvements.

        • hansman1982

          true, it may also be that the hitting cages, rehab, pre/post-game stuff will be in the triangle buidling with the current clubhouses turned into during game suites.

          I think most people will look at Wrigley in 5 years and say, that cost $500M?

        • TWC

          I can almost guarantee you that they’ve already spent $2m on conceptual/feasibility plans, they’re just not sharing them with us.  For a $500m project, A/E consulting/plans/etc, is going to run anywhere from 8-10% of the project budget ($40-50m).  There’s just no way that they’re scratching up funding to start working on design concepts, and $2m is a drop in the bucket for a half-billion dollar project.  When they secure funding, they’re going to start construction ASAP.  I almost pity the poor draftspersons who are going to be locked in their office 24/7 until the construction drawings are done.

          • JB88

            You are probably right on the feasibility studies. I can’t imagine they’d leak to the press the idea of putting facilities under the playing field if they hadn’t already done the feasibility studies.

            One thing I’m hoping that you eventually see is a way to connect the Triangle Building to the McD’s lot. I think you could really utilize that space in a number of way and I hope that the engineering firm is rendering drawings on that now as well so that you have a seamless design between the look of those three buildings.

          • TWC

            Now that I think about it, this *is* Chicago.  That A/E budget is probably a lot closer to 15% of the overall project cost.

          • hardtop

            as a former draftsperson, i wouldnt mind working on this project. cant tell you how many times i was locked up 24/7 working on some bullshit retail center. it’d be refreshing to build something i actually cared about for a change (he says as he finalizes a price for a tax payer funded “resort” hotel, blech)

            • TWC

              Oh, well, shit yeah.  I mean, if my firm got an RFP to work on Wrigley, I’d have to let someone else prepare it, else the proposal would be covered with my drool.

            • MaxM1908

              Nothing will make you more cynical about society than seeing first-hand private industry welfare. I’m willing to make an exception for Wrigley Field because of its historical and cultural significance, but 90% of public-private partnerships don’t fund such worthy causes. The vast majority uses the common pool of funds to line the pockets of a select few.

              • JB88

                Most businesses don’t generate the sort of secondary business for the state that a sports team does either.

                Keeping companies like Motorola and Sears in state is great, but most of the component parts they are sourcing or the products they are manufacturing are manufactured elsewhere.

                The tourism, merchandising, restaurant, and bar business that the Cubs generate far dwarf the amount of tax revenue that the Cubs will receive to fund this project.

                • Pat

                  At least 90% of that money would still be in the city/state regardless. That’s why these economic studies are so slanted. If people didn’t spend that mny at Wrigley, they would spend it elsewhere. It doesn’t just disappear.

              • Matt3

                yes…steal the fruits of my labor through taxes and inflation and give it to someone else…. and yeah those poor players who don’t make enough FRNs to play a sport at Wrigley, I really feel bad for ‘em

  • https://www.facebook.com/chris.siuty Chris84

    I’ve done the Wrigley tour and the facilities aren’t even on par with a lot of high school facilities, which is nuts.

    As far as the front offices go, I’ve sort of seen them, because looking up, you can sort of see inside from the street, so my mental image isn’t accurate. The way I always pictured the Wrigley offices is wood paneling, a brown shag carpet and a lone ’85 Bears poster on the wall.

  • Spencer

    No doubt they need to make improvements. But, at least the facilities for the home team are marginally better than those for the road teams. Hamels’ point is well taken. He’s been talking about Chicago an awfully lot, lately. *fingers crossed*

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To make sure it’s clear, that set of quotes is from the same rap session he had with Wittenmyer. It was just a different subject (or, that is to say, I preferred a different angle on this part of their discussion), so I broke them into two posts.

  • ytowncubsfan

    Brett what do you think would be a reasonable time frame for the renovations and triangle building to be complete if they $$$ gets approved by the end of the baseball season?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If they do it on road trips and in the offseasons, it’s possible it could be done for the 2015 season.

  • SirCub

    “Play on an historic team, in an historic ballpark. Play in a wonderful city. Play for passionate, knowledgeable fans. Be a part of the first team to win it all for the Cubs in over 100 years. *AND* take advantage of some of the most state-of-the-art, top-notch facilities in all of baseball.”

    Fine, you’ve convinced me. I’ll sign a contract to play baseball for the Cubs.

  • Drew

    So, do they go all in and play a home season at the cell? Do they tear down everything but the bleachers and build from underground up? Exciting to think of the possibilities for both the field and future of the team!

    • Drew

      Hey! This same-name thing isnt gonna work out…

  • Beer Baron

    The way I see it, the “triangle building” would just be an addition to the actual stadium, not a separate entity, and the team is doing itself a dis-service as they keep allowing it to be referred to as a separate building. If done right, the ‘triangle expansion’ would allow for some of the most needed updates including expanding the concourses, adding new restrooms and enhancing the clubhouse and training facilities. Currently the players clubhouse entrance is via the triangle lot so it seems a no-brainer that you could do an expansion through there without really affecting the stadium itself and bring it as close as possible to a 21st century facility.

    • Ogyu

      Exactly

    • Pat

      They refer to it as a separate project because they have already promised the city that the team will build it. They can’t ask for taxpayer funds for that without violating the agreement with the city to get the bleacher expansion and additional night games. But essentiially it is a single project.

  • Kevin

    Any chance to move Addison St to the south so the Cubs will have a larger footprint to build on?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Nope already named my daughter. Can’t be done. Move on. Nothing to see here folks. Keep moving.

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