Chicago Cubs: What is next for Wrigley renovations?
The 2015 season is officially over for the Chicago Cubs, but it is still an exciting time for the team and fans. We all look forward to the Cubs garnering some season awards, with Kris Bryant already having taken home the Sporting News Rookie of the Year award and pitcher Jake Arrieta and manager Joe Maddon hopeful for some hardware, too.
Free agency season is not far off, and the Cubs appear likely to be active, exciting participants this year. And the Cubs ol’ ballpark, venerable Wrigley Field, continues to go through changes in its four-year-long renovation process, bringing a new face and feel to its old veneer.
Some fans may find it hard to get fired up about Wrigley renovations, thinking them fewer SportsCenter and more HGTV, but what the organization has in store for Wrigley in 2016 will have a great impact on what we see on the field as well as around the field.
Boosts to the players
The Cubs website boasts that the team will be in a new clubhouse by Opening Day 2016. Chicago’s current clubhouse is small and lacks several of the amenities of other modern clubhouses. The new facility will dwarf the old one in size and offer an updated workout facility, player lounge, and offices.
Having an inviting and modern space for players will add appeal to would-be signees as the Cubs look to add players through free agency this off-season and allow current players to train in a more accessible space.
The old clubhouse will be converted into an expanded dugout space, an auditorium, offices and batting tunnels. What is notable here is that the current batting practice facilities are underneath the bleachers–a highly inaccessible space for players, especially during games.
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More centrally located batting tunnels will be inviting to prospective Cubs and may allow Cubs players (both present and future) to better prepare for games.
Short-term renovation plans also involve moving the bullpens from along the foul lines to underneath the outfield bleachers. Most modern ballparks have bullpens located in the outfield, where they are a bit removed from direct contact with fans and pitchers can prepare for entering a game without worrying of interrupting or being directly involved in the current game action.
You want to get and keep good players? You have to pay them. The Cubs have a few constructs in the works that will help expand Wrigley’s ability to generated revenue, which translates to a better team on the field.
A new upper-level concourse will offer updated bathroom facilities and concessions along with additional seating. Being able to sell more tickets obviously connects to bringing in more revenue, but so does implied value in the ballpark experience.
A fan who enjoys the food he eats doesn’t have to wait too long to get it and has a nice place to deposit it will likely spend more money through increased consumption and repeat visits.
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Big bucks roll into a ballpark through club-style seating. The Cubs will update and expand seating clubs for premium and season ticket holders. These facilities will be along the third base line and behind home plate.
It’s a new era
Team president Theo Epstein’s plan for sustained success is bearing fruit on the field. We’re excited about the new feeling surrounding the Cubs. It is a new era for Cubs baseball, and playing in a new era ballpark that aids in bringing a quality team to the field are part of the plan.
So are the renovations a little HGTV? Maybe… but only so we can see more of the Cubs on Sports Center, too.