The Chicago Cubs have announced that Wrigley Field will be ready–as ready as it can be–for Opening Night on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The bleachers are still behind and won’t be open till May or June, but the new massive video board in left will debut on Sunday.
The harsh Chicago winter has taken a toll on the renovations, which is the main reason the bleachers won’t see completion for a few more months. The smaller video board in right field is expected to be ready by the All-Star break. The Budweiser sign that has sparked controversy will make its debut on Sunday, and will be moved atop the right field video board upon its completion.
Needless to say, there are a lot of moving pieces, but the Cubs never questioned the ballpark would be ready for the opener, a point which team spokesman Julian Green made very clear in a conference call with the media on Tuesday.
Rumors had surfaced that the park wouldn’t be ready, that the grandstands would be unsafe and that Major League Baseball was considering moving the opener to U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side. Green made it know his unhappiness with the unidentified persons making the allegations.
"“This has been the most disturbing (rumor),” Green said. “We’ve hit an all-time low for Wrigley Field rumors and myths. … We’ve said time and time again, we will not cut corners on this project and we’re going to do this project right and responsibly.” h/t Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune"
He was most upset by the accusations that the stands were “unsafe, referring to them as “absolutely false (and) reckless reports”.
The project is, and will be a work in progress all season. The team has already exceeded the original budget by $50 million, and has said it will take five years to complete instead of the initial estimate of four.
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Most notably will be the empty bleachers for the first few months–but also there will be gaps in the ivy from the construction on the walls. A men’s restroom and two women’s restrooms in the left field concourse, as well as an absence of WiFi for a majority of the season.
The team hopes to do all it can to accommodate fans throughout the year during the renovations, but also realizes that they may need to adapt along the way. “We’re going to consistently monitor the noise, the dust, the construction activity and make adjustments as we go,” said Wrigley operations chief Carl Rice.