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respect wrigleyAlthough the implications of the rooftop/City/Landmarks Commission lawsuit remain uncertain, the Chicago Cubs and the City of Chicago are taking affirmative steps to prepare for some of the most significant construction at Wrigley Field this offseason.

In the latest update at WrigleyField.com, and also sent to Cubs fans via email, the Cubs explain what’s happening at the park right now:

This week, portions of Waveland and Sheffield avenues will be closed as part of a land transfer from the City of Chicago. Soon, the City of Chicago will begin relocating underground water and sewer infrastructure in preparation for the renovation and expansion of Wrigley Field. The street closures won’t impact ballpark access or gameday operations so fans do not have to adjust their travel routines going to and from Cubs games. As a reminder, Cubs fans are strongly encouraged to use public transportation. As the season concludes, we will begin the Budweiser Bleacher expansion project and anticipate completion by Opening Day 2015.

And, indeed, those portions are visibly closed down. Here are some shots of what’s going on right now on Sheffield:

Those should give you an idea of how far the Cubs will be bumping out the outfield wall, plus the new, smaller sidewalk that will outline that wall. It’s a pretty significant bump-out, which will not only support the planned outfield signage, but also increase Wrigley’s tiny footprint, creating a little more space there in the outfield under the bleachers. At present, it’s rather petite through there.

Obviously this has always been the plan, but this is a fairly big deal, because it’s the first visible, affirmative step we’ve seen the Cubs take toward actually starting the real meaty substance of the renovation in the offseason. It’s not that the Cubs have said anything otherwise, but we’ve long since entered the “I’ll believe it when I see it” stage of obsessing about the renovation.

Now, there’s something to see. Sure, it’s just a planning piece, and sure, it doesn’t necessarily prove anything. But, by all appearances, the Cubs and the City are proceeding as though the renovation will start in earnest after the season. Pair this outfield wall plan with the recent message to season ticket holders about the relocation event being online this year due to construction, and the signals are strong that this will actually start soon, and we could see serious changes at Wrigley at the start of the 2015 season.

But, you know, we’ll see.

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