The Chicago Cubs have said all winter that the new plaza in the triangle property will be ready by Opening Night. The Cubs have officially confirmed that, along with a name for the plaza and its own website.
Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs announced the opening of the new plaza and building on the triangle lot next to Wrigley Field. Named, “The Park at Wrigley”, the new park is set open on Monday, April 10, the first home game of the season. The Cubs already have big plans for the park this season, including movies, farmers markets and more.
Unfortunately, on game days, access to the park will be restricted to those who have tickets to the game. The park will open two hours before first pitch. Fans will be able to purchase food and drinks before the game, as well as partake in some activities throughout the game. It appears the Cubs will be showing the game on the video board attached to the building as well as post-game highlights.
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This is where the Cubs are not happy. They want access to be open to ALL fans on game-days, especially those without tickets. Does it really serve a useful purpose to show the game on the video board? If a fan has a ticket to the game, wouldn’t they rather watch the game in the stadium? After all, they spent a lot of money for the tickets. So, it will be interesting to see how that goes.
It also raises the question of fans without tickets lingering around the stadium. If the game is shown on the video board, it’s likely you will be able to see the game while standing outside the plaza. Will fans be allowed to stand “near” the park without entering to watch the game?”
Trying to integrate into the local community
The Cubs will host many free and paid events at the park throughout the season. The first such event is a “Craft and Cuisine” celebration. This two-day event will be held on May 13-14 and include beer and wine tastings from over 40 local restaurants. Tickets to this paid event are $49 per session. A VIP option is available for $79.
Green City Market will be hosting a farmers market beginning on June 15. This market will run every Thursday through October 26. Already, you can see the Cubs planning events beyond the regular baseball season. If the Cubs make a deep run into the playoffs, they will still be playing ball well into October, when the market is still going.
The Music Box Theatre will host several movie nights during the summer. These free movies will be shown on the video board at the park and include “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “The Jungle Book”, “Rookie of the Year” and more. There will also be morning and afternoon music programs hosted by Old Town School of Folk Music beginning in June.
A City of Chicago ordinance only permits the Cubs 12 special events each year. This is a really small number if you consider what the Cubs already have planned for the plaza this year.
The Cubs also want to allow fans to watch away playoff games on the plaza. There is clearly a lot of potential for this new plaza. The Cubs are hopeful they can be able to more freely use the plaza the way they want too. They continue to negotiate with the city regarding the rules for the plaza.
New restaurant and retail options
Finally, the Cubs announced some restaurants and retail that will occupy the building that is a part of the plaza. The Cubs Store, which was formerly located across the street on the corner of Clark and Addison, will permanently reside in the plaza building. A Starbucks with a high-end Reserve bar will also find a new home in the plaza.
There are also plans for a two-story tavern restaurant, a Jostens jewelry store and a trophy room for the 2016 World Championship Trophy. It appears the trophy will be on display at select times throughout the year for fans to take pictures with throughout the season. This is similar to the trophy room at the Cubs Convention.
We know that the tavern restaurant will not be ready by Opening Day. The Cubs have not announced whether the other planned retailers will be open on April 10. Logically, it seems like the Cubs Store will be up-and-running. The Cubs have not stated the hours for these retailers either. My guess is that most would be open during non-game day hours.
The Cubs also unveiled a website www.parkatwrigley.com that gives full details on the new plaza. A schedule of all the events, including gameday festivities is listed on the site. Park at Wrigley also has a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account. The new west gate, which will be accessible from the plaza, will also be open on April 10.
My guess is that somewhere down the line, the Cubs will likely sell the naming rights to the plaza. Similar to how how they sold the naming rights their spring facility, I would fully expect something like “Wintrust Park (or Plaza) at Wrigley” in the future. Maybe, I am wrong, but it just makes sense.