Wrigley Field renovations

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Since purchasing the Chicago Cubs baseball team and Wrigley Field in 2009, the Ricketts family have been pursuing an extensive renovation of the stadium and the surrounding venue. The 1060 Project (so called after Wrigley Field's Addison Street address) is projected to cost $575 million and will be completed in four phases during consecutive off-seasons.[1] Funding will be generated from advertising revenue and increased corporate sponsorship in the form of additional signage placed in and around the stadium.

History

The initial plan, revealed during the annual Cubs Convention in January 2013, called for a $575-million, privately funded rehabilitation of the stadium to be completed over the course of five years.[2] The proposal included improvements to the stadium's facade, infrastructure, restrooms, concourses, suites, press box, bullpens, and clubhouses, as well as the addition of restaurants, patio areas, batting tunnels, a 5,700-square-foot jumbotron, and an adjacent hotel, plaza, and office-retail complex.[3]

Months of negotiations between the team, local Alderman Tom Tunney, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel followed with the eventual endorsements of the city's Landmarks Commission and the Plan Commission and final approval by the Chicago City Council in July 2013.[4]

Funding

Increased advertising signage, in and around the park, will help to fund the four phases of the renovation. Before the renovation began, the majority of the rooftop club owners that surround the stadium felt that such signs would obstruct their sightlines and render them out of business.[5][6]

Wrigley rooftops

Prior to 1980, the rooftops provided a vantage point and were a gathering place for free views of the ongoing Cubs games. Since the observers were a few dozen people watching from the flat rooftops and windows of the buildings, with "seating" consisting of a few folding chairs, there was little commercial impact on the Cubs. When the popularity of the Cubs began to rise in the 1980s, formal seating structures began to appear, and building owners began charging admission, much to the displeasure of Cubs management, who saw it as an unreasonable encroachment.[citation needed] In 2002, the Cubs filed a lawsuit against the different facilities for copyright infringement. In 2004, 11 of the 13 roofs settled with the club, out of court, agreeing to pay 17% of gross revenue in exchange for official endorsement.[7] With the Cubs and the neighbors reaching agreement, many of the facilities erected permanent seating structures: some with bleachers, some with chair seats, and even one with a steel-girdered double deck of seats. By 2014, 15 of those buildings' structures that were once residential apartments had evolved into rooftop businesses with state-of-the-art multi-level facilities solely and exclusively used to sell tickets for a bird's eye views into the stadium to watch a Cubs game.

Before work on the project began, the team wanted the rooftop owners to agree not to pursue legal action challenging the construction and continued to negotiate privately with them – offering to reduce the size and number of signs to be built – in order to gain their assent.[8] The rooftop owners had a lease with the team until 2023 in exchange for paying 17% of the gross revenues. Unable to reach an agreement with the rooftop owners by May 2014, the Cubs said that they would pursue the original 2013 plan to modify the park.[9] In the early months of 2015, the Ricketts family purchased three of the rooftop properties.[10] In the middle of the 2015 season, they purchased three more.[11]

Beginning

The Wrigley Field four-year renovation project, projected to cost $575 million, started as soon as the 2014 season was completed.[12] Prior to the start of the 2015 season, both left and right field bleachers were expanded and the stadium was extended further onto both Waveland Avenue (to the north) and Sheffield Avenue (to the east). Seven new outfield signs were installed along with a 2,400-square-foot video scoreboard in right field. Construction was begun on new locker rooms and lounges to exist in an underground area that was excavated along Clark Street (to the west).[13]

Architectural team

In an effort to preserve the past while at the same time modernizing for the future, the Cubs engaged DAIQ Architects, a company with experience in modernizing Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. T.Gunny Harboe of Harboe Architects, a historic preservation architect who worked on the Rookery Building and Sullivan Center in the Chicago Loop, was selected the architect in charge of preserving the historic features and 1930s characteristics of the ballpark. VOA Associates, which helped design the new Navy Pier, provided construction drawings and Icon Venue Group is the project management company.[14]

Phase One, 2014–15 off-season

The parking lots are the future location of Triangle Plaza and the Cubs' new office building. Structural steel and concrete work continued throughout the stadium complex during the 2015 season with the addition of new concession areas and restroom facilities, outfield group terraces and a re-worked third-base side concourse.[15]

3,990-square-foot videoboard overlooking left field bleacher seats

Protecting the ivy

File:Wrigley Field 400 sign.jpg
Wrigley Field's ivy-covered outfield walls

Wrigley Field has distinct outfield walls which are covered by a combination of Boston ivy and Japanese bittersweet.[16] The ivy was planted in 1937, having been an idea of future MLB owner Bill Veeck years earlier.[17]

2015 season

Due to delays caused by cold weather and construction restrictions, the renovations in left and center field were delayed until May 11 while the right-field bleachers were finished in mid-June. [18] Attendance during the opening weeks of the 2015 season was affected by the unavailability of approximately 5,000 bleacher seats. The announced crowd for the home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals was 35,055 while the second game of the series drew 26,814.[19] Prior to the renovation, seating capacity for Wrigley Field was 41,160.[20] [21]

Triangle Plaza, west of the stadium

Triangle Plaza and future Cubs office building under construction at the conclusion of the 2015 season

Work continued throughout the summer of 2015 on foundation and structural work for the Cubs' new clubhouse and office building as well as an open-air plaza and retail space. The excavation for the future home of the 30,000-square-foot Cubs' clubhouse and new office building was completed in July. Work will continue during the off-season and the completed clubhouse should be ready by Opening Day of the 2016 season.[needs update] Support columns for a six-story office building, which will house the Cubs' administrative offices and a ground-floor retail space, have been installed and the building is expected to be completed by late 2016.[22]

Phase Two, 2015–16 off-season

After the close of the extended 2015 season, work began to convert the excavated area just west of the field into a 30,000-square-foot area for players' locker rooms, strength, conditioning, training and hydrotherapy sections, players' lounges, a media center and team offices. The previous clubhouse space will be utilized to enlarge the dugout and add two underground batting cages, an auditorium and more team office space. Premium and season ticket holders will be afforded a new "Third Base Club" next to the batting tunnels and a "Home Plate Club" will be introduced behind home plate. All seats, from the left-field foul pole to the main gate, will be removed and replaced and new concessions and bathrooms will be added. An upper-deck exposed concourse will be added along the south and west roof-line of right field. Improved bathroom facilities and additional concessions are included.[23]

Marquee

The neon marquee has been dismantled and removed for renovation and refurbishment.

On November 2, 2015, workers began dismantling the marquee and relocating it for renovation and refurbishment. The marquee had been in place since 1933.[24]

Added year

In March 2015, just prior to the baseball season, Ricketts announced an additional year will be required to complete the 1060 project.[25]

Completion

The completed project, including a Sheraton Hotel across from Wrigley on Clark and a plaza south of Clark and Waveland Avenue, is expected to be finished by the opening of the 2019 season.[26]

References

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