Just as the baseball side of the rebuild reaches a well-discussed turning point, the business side of the rebuild might be on the verge of a couple wins. Viva intentionally synchronicity.
We discussed the ongoing television deal plans yesterday, and today, it’s the other story: the renovation of Wrigley Field draws very near. Today is the final game of the home schedule, and the line of demarcation between where the rubber of the Cubs saying “the renovation will start after the season” the road of shovels in the ground.
Cubs spokesperson Julian Green met with the media yesterday to confirm that the renovation is starting as the season concludes, perhaps this weekend. You can read Green’s comments, as well as some of the better takes on the impending renovation, here at Cubs.com, here in the Tribune, and here at ESPN.
As the Cubs have mentioned previously, and as Green confirmed, the focuses of the work this offseason will be:
- Digging a big hole in the triangle property to the west of the ballpark where the new clubhouse (subterranean) and plaza/commercial/office area will be (terranean). The clubhouse will not be completed until Opening Day 2016. The plaza space will come later – the entire renovation project is expected to take four years.
- The outside of the outfield walls will be taken down and bumped out, creating more interior space at Wrigley and also creating proper support for the bleacher expansion and outfield signage. (Be advised: Sheffield and Waveland will be closed through March for the work.)
- The JumboTron in left field will be up for Opening Day 2015. The Cubs are in the RFP (request for proposal) process right now, and should have a contractor in place by the end of the calendar year.
- The script sign in right field (Budweiser) will be up for Opening Day 2015.
- The other five approved outfield signs – the primary bones of unresolved contention with the rooftop owners – could be up next year as well, but the Cubs are still in the process of securing advertising partners (Sun-Times). Presumably, once the walls are completed, the signs could go up on the fly at any time.
- Expanding the bleachers slightly in right and left fields. The center field area will largely be untouched this offseason.
- Building a new patio area in left field, and adding an LED board on that side of the field, similar to the LED board presently in right field.
This is all really happening. I expect there will be a groundbreaking ceremony at some point in the coming week, complete with the fancy shovels and hardhats.
I suppose right about now is when you should prepare yourself for the changes that are coming. The JumboTron will be there next year. Maybe several more outfield signs. The LED board in left will be there. After next year, the bullpens will relocate to under the bleachers. The facade at Wrigley will be restored. The facilities will improve. The guts will be renovated. The plaza will appear. The hotel will appear. The experience for fans will be different, but probably not fundamentally so. In the aggregate, it should be much better, even as we recognize that change is hard.
And, hopefully, as part of that business rebuilding plan, the new revenue will flow. The more resources available to baseball operations, particularly as they turn the corner on the field, the better. Whatever you think of the frustrating years of failed starts or of the changes to the Wrigley of your memory, this renovation and development plan matters to the future of Chicago Cubs’ performance on the field. That’s the most important thing, isn’t it?