Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Cubs Do the Community Some Good, Plus More Details on the Plans

respect wrigley[Ed. – I know, I know, Baez party. But other stuff happens. More on Baez soon.]

Obligatory opening status update: the Cubs have said they will be proceeding on the Wrigley Field renovation project in the coming months, with the heaviest work to begin after the season. All of that, including seven outfield signs, has been approved by the City of Chicago (in a variety of ways and at a variety of times), and the only outstanding matter – natch – is the resolution of the dispute with the rooftop owners about those outfield signs. The Cubs have said they’re proceeding with them whether or not a lawsuit is forthcoming, but the City insisted that the two sides give another go at negotiating a compromise. So that’s happening behind the scenes right now, with no updates yet. But no lawsuits yet, either.

All right.

The Tribune turned out a great piece of reporting today with some more details on how the renovation will proceed, and another new item (which didn’t require Landmarks Commission approval, so we haven’t heard about it yet) that is coming. Give it a read (and also read the companion visual aid). The “new item” is a series of luxury “bunkers,” that will be attached to seating near the field, but won’t actually have field visibility (sounds like a fancy party room that you can go hang in, then go out to your seats, then go back, etc.). For we regular folks, there’s not a lot of impact, but hey, they sound like healthy revenue-generators. So cool.

The upshot of the Tribune’s piece is mostly things we already knew, but it’s in a really well-articulated package, with new stuff sprinkled throughout. The Cubs will work on the new clubhouse/plaza area (recall, the clubhouse is to be under the plaza west of the park) “as soon as possible,” and are aiming to have the bleacher expansion, the new in-stadium (non-OF) signage, Jumbotron, and right field LED board in place for the start of the 2015 season (i.e., the revenue-generators).

If all goes according to plan, you’ll see most of the rest of the renovation completed over the next two years, and in place for the start of the 2017 season. There will still be work after 2017, and the goal is to have everything – including the external elements like the hotel, the office building, and the plaza – wrapped up before the start of the 2018 season. If that happens, the Cubs will not have lost any time from their original projected timeline back in 2013. That would be swell.

Meanwhile, the ceremonial groundbreaking for the School Street play lot was this weekend, with Tom Ricketts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Alderman Tom Tunney, among others, in attendance. The project, one of many the Chicago Cubs support financially in the Lakeview area without a whole lot of fanfare, is being supported by a $1 million donation from the Cubs. It will be the largest play area in Lakeview, unless you’re counting Lincoln Park.

In addition to the School Street project, the Cubs will be donating around $3.75 million to other projects in the community over the next nine years as part of the Wrigley Field renovation plan, and the Cubs’ desire to remain good neighbors.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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