At long last, the Chicago Cubs’ proposed renovation of 100-year-old Wrigley Field is set to begin.
The organization unveiled a new series of artist renderings on Tuesday, with some notable changes set for the Friendly Confines, including additional signage behind the bleachers and the removal of the notable bullpens down each respective foul line.
Less than a week after Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts sent a letter and video to fans telling them the club is done negotiating with the rooftop owners and it’s time to “put the team and fans first,” the Cubs on Tuesday unveiled a revised plan with additional outfield signage, an expanded home clubhouse and the relocating of the home and visitors’ bullpens to underneath the right-field bleachers.
“We can’t delay any longer,” Ricketts said in the video. “The time to build a winner is now.”
The four additional signs will measure up to 650 square feet and one of the biggest additions that was noticed by fans was the 2,400 square-foot video board in right field, opposite the massive video board in left field, which was reduced in size from 4,500 square feet to 3,950 square feet. The lights on top of the left field board were also removed in the latest proposal.
The new proposal will go before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on June 5, but still faces considerable opposition by the rooftop owners. Still, the organization is planning to begin construction in July, with the video boards ready for Opening Day 2015.
Crane Kenney, Cubs business president, told Chicago Tribune writer Paul Sullivan that the rooftops had their shot at the bargaining table and the Cubs are done waiting.
"“If there was a reasonable solution, they should’ve brought it forward,” Kenney said. “We explored everything, from acquiring them to new partnerships to new revenue splits. This is sort of controlling our own environment.”"
According to Sullivan, the additional renovations will add $75 million to the initial projected cost of the project, but the revenue from the signage should offset any losses from rooftop contributions to the organization, which currently sit at 17 percent.
Apart from moving the bullpens under the bleachers, a major difference for players will be the expansion of the clubhouse from 11,000 to over 30,000 square feet, which would make the facilities the second-largest in big league ball.
The players’ clubhouse would be added underneath the plaza that has been proposed in what has been deemed the “triangle” area just west of Wrigley Field. Kenney told Sullivan that it’s “a bit of a walk” for players, given it’s roughly 200 feet from the new clubhouse to the field. However, new video rooms, batting tunnels and a training room would be located next to the Cubs’ dugout.
While Tuesday’s news is certainly exciting, this whole experience is far from over. Should the City of Chicago approve the proposal, which Cubs officials say they fully anticipate, the legality of the moves will certainly be questioned by the rooftop owners.
Either way, at this point, any news is good news.