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The Cubs have released some pretty amazing conceptual drawings for a renovated Wrigley Field

Jan 22, 2013, 9:24 AM EDT

Yesterday we noted how the Ricketts family announced over the weekend that they’d be willing to foot the bill on dramatic renovations to Wrigley Field rather than ask for public dollars to do it. But — and it’s no small but — they want restrictions regarding how they run the ballpark and when they can play games eased. More night games, more signage, scoreboards and, in all likelihood, blocking out the rooftops nearby.

Which will all be the subject of much debate going forward, obviously.  In the meantime, they have released conceptual sketches of what this major renovation might entail. And again, I must use the word dramatic:

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There are many others which you can over at Biz of Baseball.  As for the rundown of all that would be accomplished under the plan:

  • Addition of a rooftop patio;
  • Party decks in left and center field;
  • Expanded luxury suites;
  • New LED board in left field;
  • Jumbotron-like video screen;
  • Club lounge;
  • Restaurant where the old administrative offices used to be;
  • A much bigger clubhouse;
  • Batting tunnels near the dugouts;
  • A video room; and
  • A new weight room and a physical therapy/rehab center.

All of these things — especially the new player facilities — would greatly enhance old Wrigley.  And really, as long as the ivy, brick, scoreboard and location of the ballpark are kept more or less the same, I bet even the purists would get over it eventually. At least they should, because most of these changes are much-needed, either for revenue generation purposes or for simply bringing Wrigley up to the standards of modern ballparks.

The big fights will come from the bar owners who don’t want to lose business to in-park bars and clubs and to night games which limit their high-traffic hours. We’ll see how that goes, but it’s hard to beat a combination of (a) private funding; (b) modernization; and (c) maintaining the overall feel of the old park.

  1. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    The most amazing transformation is in the health of the Cubs’ fans.

  2. runteddyrun - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    That top part looks like it has a lot of support…

    • rje49 - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      That’s what those two little sticks underneath it all is for!

  3. mattintoledo - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    The historic jerseys on the fans are a nice touch. “See? Fans won’t forget the history! They’re still wearing Ernie Banks shirts!”

  4. The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Sadly, I’ve never been to Wrigley. Is that top deck new? It looks like it almost completely obscures the view of the people towards the back of the bottom deck. At the very least, anything higher than a ground ball would be lost. Is that the way things are now? Or is it possible I’m misinterpreting the picture?

    • jm91rs - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      I agree that in the design it looks like the people in the back of the lower deck would have a hard time seeing any ball over 20 feet in the air, but unfortunately at Wrigley there are a ton of obstructed view seats already. Something like this proposed design would fit in well with the rest of the seating.

      • bdickey33 - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Yes, that view does not look like it will change. It is bad now and, but that is also why the lower section of the upper deck’s tickets are higher priced than the back of the lower deck. They are part of the non premium seating.

  5. historiophiliac - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    That’s ugly. I wonder why they didn’t try to use materials that would blend in better w/ what’s already there.

    • drunkenhooliganism - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      They’re just following the lead from Soldier Field. They took a classic stadium and put the millennium falcon on top of it.

      I still believe they were trying to sabotage the remodel concept so they could get a completely new stadium

      • historiophiliac - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Too funny. You might be on to something there.

      • El Bravo - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM

        …and Soldier Field lost its landmark status as a result of Mr. Solo’s poor parking job. Let’s hope they don’t make the same mistake to an even older landmark: Wrigley Field.

      • cintiphil - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

        Drunken:
        At least the team is trying to do something. I have been to Wrigley several times and I like the area around it. This is trying to keep the concept of a neighborhood field and at the same time modernize it. You should not complain. Look what the jerks are doing in Beantown. That’s right nothing. They have a crappy field where you can barely watch the game from the right filed line and the dopes think they have a great field just because it is old. I will be traveling to Chicago several times again to watch the Reds and look forward to a revised Wrigley in the same area.

      • sabatimus - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Funniest thing I’ve read so far today.

  6. yankeepunk3000 - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    If you look closely at the homeplate club you will find one person of different skin color. It’s like the wheres waldo in the minority shot right there jeez.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      Now that you mention it, I didn’t see any in the concourse pic. Hmmm…

    • poreef - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      You haven’t spent much time in Wrigleyville / Lincoln Park ‘hoods of Chicago. This is a reasonably accurate depiction.

      You can live a lily white life in Chicago even if there is no shortage of immigrants in the city.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Well, you don’t have to show off your segregation.

  7. muckey - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    The question is what are they going to do about the internal support of that entire stadium? I’ve seen the huge steel I-beams that are holding that stadium up and they are practically disintergrating. I was down in an office on the bottom floor behind the bathrooms and right above me was a huge I-beam that was flaking off as I touched it. It was pretty scary knowing that all those beams are like that holding up Wrigley. The stadium is a dump. I don’t understand why they don’t just build a new stadium off of Lake Michigan. It could be really nice. I’m tired of fans whining about the history of Wrigley because the only history it has is a losing history. If they can tear down Yankee Stadium, they can tear down that shithole that is Wrigley.

    • cintiphil - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      That is what I meant in my earlier post. It is a great park and upscale neighborhood, but it needs to be modernized. So you lose a little of the old time look, but you have a great park for along time to come.

  8. sfm073 - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Why not just make a new stadium if you’re gonna add all of these upgrades?

    • cackalackyank - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      My guess is that is next. Unless the city caves and gives the Ricketts’ the concessions requested in order for them to use their own money, they will be free to start location shopping.(If they haven’t already) The ownership is willing to pour 300 million into a 100 year old crumbling relic, so I am guessing they would be willing to double down for a new park. 700 million from them and @ 250-300 million in bonds from the taxpayers of Illinois for “infrastructure” should get it done.

      • cintiphil - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        Then a lot of us who travel to your town, just to watch a game in Wrigley, will just stay home. And, I will bet a lot of locals will stop going in addition.

  9. paperlions - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    As an alternative, the Cubs could just build their own park somewhere and stop playing at Wrigley.

    Having historical landmarks is nice, but if you want an MLB team to play there, they are going to have to allow the 21st century to intrude. Chicago can either have a landmark or a ball park suitable for a modern MLB club, it really isn’t possible to have both. I guess it is up the the city to decide which they want.

    • Jeremy Fox - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      I think the Fenway renovations are a model here. I’d say Fenway both remains a historic landmark, and is a park suitable for a modern club. I’d assume that’s the sort of thing the Cubs have in mind.

      • paperlions - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        I agree. The “landmarkiness” of Wrigley is really the brick wall and ivy, isn’t it? A compromise should be possible, but historically…it seems like the neighborhood and the city have been resistant to a reasonable compromise…..because Chicago wants a competitive team, they are going to have to allow some modernity in the stadium with respect to facilities (for players/teams and for fans).

        I went to a game at Fenway last year. To me, it was just like going to any other stadium as a visiting fan.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        I have not been to Fenway since the renovation, from watching on the tube it certainly looks like a good compromise. I am no engineer either, but bottom line, the guts of that stadium are 100 years old too. Sooner or later Fenway too will reach a tipping point where it will no longer make sense to renovate again. See Yankee stadium. Renovated in the 1970’s, after 35 years it was no longer competitive as an MLB venue. Despite a huge historical legacy it just made more sense to start over. If I was a Cubs fan I might welcome a new park. …and when the new park opens, if some guy wants to bring in a goat…for crying out loud…LET HIM.

      • cintiphil - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        Fox:

        Just how many games have you seen at Fenway? I used to see about 5 a year for a long time. It was upgraded however, some of the impossible seats remain and they get top dollar. I would not travel ten miles to watch a game there.

      • Jeremy Fox - Jan 22, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        I’ve been to Fenway once, pre-renovation. I enjoyed it, even though I actually had a seat with a somewhat restricted view.

        In my comment, I didn’t say or imply that there are no longer any seats with bad sightlines. And I certainly didn’t say that the tickets are cheap! (which has nothing to do with the renovations; it’s all supply and demand) I simply said that the renovations have improved the park while respecting its history, so that it’s still a viable home for a major league baseball team.

        If you don’t like Fenway, fair enough. Different strokes for different folks. But that’s not what my comment was about.

      • sabatimus - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        @cackalackyank: Fenway already has reached the point where further renovations won’t matter much. As much history as there is in that place, it’s not a comfortable place to go for fans, and it’s also holds the fewest seats in the league.

        Not that tons of people are going to want to go this year after last year’s debacle.

  10. Alex K - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I don’t mind any of those drawings. As long as the ivy and bricks stay I don’t think it will be a big deal. I love just about everything to do with Wrigley Field, but sooner or later something is going to have to give (and hopefully it won’t be the support beams!).

    Illinois is broke. Chicago is broke. If I still lived in Chicago proper I wouldn’t want my tax dollars going to a private business (no matter how much I love that laundry) when there are way bigger problems like CPS.

    I would rather the Ricketts used their money to do the upgrades/changes the way that they would do themn with taxpayer money, but if they are willing to pay for it they should be able to change it how they see fit.

  11. schlom - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I want to know more about this batting tunnel bear. That seems like an unneeded feature. Will there be a bear in both tunnels or just in the visitors? It’s too bad the Red Sox didn’t have one in 2011, I’m sure it would have kept the pitchers from eating chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games.

  12. manute - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    #turdpolishing

  13. uwsptke - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    They could really turn this into a year-round tourist attraction, in the same manner that Lambeau Field was transformed a decade ago. It only generated revenue 10 days a year, but added a few permanent restaurants, renovated pro shop, and moved the hall of fame on site, and now it’s busy year-round. The opportunity is there to make it more than just a gameday destination.

    • cackalackyank - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      I think I read somewhere that Lambeau was one of the venues that the Ricketts visited and reviewed while preparing this plan. I think the problem is the “surrounding residential area”. The cities position has been, if I understand correctly, that they are trying to limit the development, disruption and commercialization of the neighborhood. That position seems to doom a Lambeau or Fenway type of attraction.

  14. theonlynolan - Jan 22, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I know they’re the Cubs but having a batting tunnel bear in the dugout seems more than a little dangerous.

  15. snowbirdgothic - Jan 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    I’m fairly certain that upper deck transforms into Optimus Prime.

  16. hojo20 - Jan 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    This stinks. They’re losing bleacher seating in favor of some of those ridiculous party decks underneath the old scoreboard, probably to drive up the demand ($$$) for bleacher seats.

    • Alex K - Jan 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Because they are so cheap anyway?

  17. roadee99 - Jan 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Yes. Because it’s all about the “experience” rather than the team on the field. It makes perfect sense. Our club cannot win championships so let’s figure out a way to keep these lemmings filing through the turnstyles. Shocking…

    • cackalackyank - Jan 22, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      One of the points is, from a FA recruiting point of view, the lack of amenities and facilities that benefit their players makes it just a bit harder to sign “marquee” players. Add that to the lack of any semblance of a winning tradition and it becomes a $$$ only package. Without some kind of overpay to balance out for the poor weight training and conditioning facilities many teams can equal, if not blow away offers from the Cubbies. A major renovation or stadium replacement are going to be a real factor in when or if the “team on the field” becomes championship caliber. They are not the sepearate issues you may believe they are.

  18. gloccamorra - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    I haven’t seen anything about more bathrooms. I hate it when guys pee over the rail or under the seats in front of them.

  19. donjuan2oo6 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Renovate the team!!

  20. jm91rs - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Does anyone know why the City is so against the night games? Seems to me that Chicago is a fairly expensive place to live, meaning many people in the city have actual jobs. You might bring more people to the area surrounding the ballpark if you played more night games?

    And how pissed would you be if you were an owner of one of the local roof top places that might get blocked out in a renovation? Your business is going to lose millions on these upgrades (not saying I feel sorry for them, the cubs need to do something to modernize).

    • sabatimus - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      I don’t know why now. They were the last team in the league to install lights so that night games could be played (1988). Listen to Lee Elia’s rant–it takes your point into account in a very, ahem, colorful way.

  21. mrbiz8505 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Get rid of the urine smell……. And then also upgrade the bathrooms….

    • 6stn - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      But place a plaque where the community urine trough is in the men’s room saying that “Hack Wilson Pissed Here: 1930.”

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