Wrigley Field has been standing for 100 years, mostly unchanged in that time aside from a few cosmetic issues. It’s stood the test of time and now after all of these years, she needs a little work as we, she and baseball march ever forward into the future. I’m not saying she isn’t pretty for being 100, or that the game is any less inviting, or that the ivy smells any less sweet in the warm summer months as you’re sitting in the bleachers enjoying a nice cool beer, and the sweat glistens on your girlfriend’s sun kissed shoulders while attending an afternoon game at the friendly confines (not that I’ve ever payed hooky to catch a baseball game with a pretty girl before.)
But I digress. The Ricketts family has had some big plans for Wrigley Field for a long time, and they just keep getting pushed further and further back. These issues began many years before the Ricketts family came into ownership of Chicago’s North side ball club. Landlords from across the street on Waveland Ave. and Sheffield Ave. began putting up their own seating areas, setting up concessions and selling tickets to watch the ball games from a few more feet away. A deal was struck with the “rooftop owners” where for 20 years they would be allowed to run their “businesses” and give the Cubs a cut of their profits.
Enter the Tom Ricketts. As a man that grew up a Cubs fan he had always dreamed of at least owning a part of the Chicago Cubs and then the opportunity presented itself. He and his family have big plans for the park and the ball club too, as those changes have already been implemented (also see Theo Epstein). What they didn’t know coming in was that this 20-year deal with the rooftop owner was in place and that not only they but their local alderman as well would fight them on their planned renovations.
After dealing with the city and spending some time in court, the renovations began this off season with a complete overhaul of the bleachers to help make way for two video boards and a new advertising sign in the outfield. In addition to terrible Chicago winter weather that has hampered construction, there have been other issues such as city statutes on the number of hours than can be worked in a day and a continued court battle with their Wrigleyville neighbors. In all this is a four-year process that has already suffered multiple setbacks, possibly tacking on upwards of one more year and putting the completion date somewhere in 2019.
Already this season will begin without a bleacher seating. Season ticket holder have been given the option of sitting in the stands until their proper seating areas are rebuilt. The left field area isn’t expected to be done until the beginning on May. The right, although previously expected done by Memorial day, has again been pushed back well into June.
The players will have to deal with construction woes as well with construction around the clubhouse and no parking currently set aside for personnel. The team should expect a very nice clubhouse to come home to after their 2016 Spring Training in addition to new batting cages and other facilities like upgraded video areas. Well, as long as things don’t get pushed back again. You can’t really blame the Cubs’ ownership though. This is basically the only ball club in the Major Leagues that can’t just do what they want, when they want to their own park. They’re doing the best they can with what they got, and it’ll pay off sooner or later.