When I woke up this morning and checked Twitter, I immediately saw conversations about weather, and surmised that, as expected, it was snowing on (home) Opening Day.
But it wasn’t until I got outside to let the dog out that I fully understood the extent of the downpour:
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 9, 2018
So basically, when Brett, Luis, and I make our way to Wrigley Field in a few short hours, I will be wearing an extra layer (or three). Nope, game’s postponed.
But hey! At least Wrigley Field is up and ready to go, right? With another offseason of serious construction out of the way, the ballpark is fully open, operational, and better than ever.
Take a look at just how much was done:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 9, 2018
For an intimate look at the work that was done over the winter and some of the changes you can expect to see today, I suggest checking out this album at the Chicago Tribune. There, photographer Brain Casella tours the stadium, snapping shots of the grandstand, the newly painted field, the home dugout, a new third base camera well, visitor’s batting cages, the future Maker’s Mark Barrel Room, and much more.
And once you’re done with that, check out Julian Green, Cubs VP of Communications, discuss some of the changes fans can expect to notice right away (four new concession stands open today, four more by mid season), as well as the visiting players (new batting cages, weight room, general accommodations):
— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) April 7, 2018
Obviously, more concession stands and wider walkways will help with the general congestion inside the stadium, but I think fans should be at least as excited about the changes coming to the visiting team’s experience? Why? Well, if you recall, the Cubs are one of the leading contenders for hosting the All-Star game in 2020, and the commissioner has previously suggested that they’d be more likely to win their bid, if the visitors clubhouse and amenities were improved. So … you know, good start.
Outside of the stadium, you won’t be able to miss the brand new Hotel Zachary, because, frankly, it’s an enormous presence just west of the stadium. Combined with The Park at Wrigley (more on this in a second (get ready for a change)), the approach to the stadium from Addison (how most fans coming from the suburbs get there) looks *entirely* different. In fact, I don’t really love that the new development blocks the Marquee from view for about a half-block longer than before, but I think the added restaurants (I *love* Big Star and Smoke Daddy) will be worth it.
The hotel also has an underground parking garage where you can park for special events (including games) … but it’s currently priced at $65, which … yo.
The Sun-Times has more photos and videos of the changes, including info on the new American Airlines 1914 Club, which will be open and operational today, and the future climbing gym that will be replacing the Taco Bell (stupid healthy hipsters and their positive-energy pro-health lifestyle. Just give me my Cheesy Gordita Crunch, okay?).
As for “The Park at Wrigley,” well, it’s no longer called “The Park at Wrigley,” it seems, as the Cubs have sold the naming rights to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., who’ve named it … Gallagher Way:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 9, 2018
So … listen: every team (in every sport) sells the naming rights to certain parts (or even all!) of their stadium, because the deals can be very lucrative, and, for as much as fans may dislike it, they keep coming back. We, as Cub fans, have been very fortunate to have the name “Wrigley Field” for quite some time and it’s not as though the Ricketts family hasn’t treated us well in that regard
But still … Gallagher Way?
It’s not as though The Park at Wrigley was some excellent or longstanding name (it’s only a year old, after all), but something about Gallagher Way just doesn’t fit. It’s … impersonal. Corporate, even. Maybe it was logistically impossible, but I’d have preferred this was the name from the get-go if it was going to be the name.
We can talk about it more another time, perhaps, but let’s just put a pin in it for now, and focus on the stadium. Because the last, and final, update to discuss today is a pretty cool one.
Check it out:
— newsburrow (@newsburrow) April 6, 2018
The new seats and dugout at Wrigley are removable, which means more unique events can be held at the stadium, like football games! I’m not a huge college football fan, but I’d absolutely take in a Northwestern game at Wrigley where they don’t have to use only half of the field because of the brick walls. And hey, who knows, maybe the Bears will return for a special event at some point. Probably not, but maybe!
And that’s that!
So I’ll see you at the game – or at Gallagher Way beforehand (See? I’m a good sport) – and Let’s Go Cubs!