The most anticipated session of the weekend focused on the restoration plans for Wrigley Field … and the Cubs did not disappoint.
The five year project, that will take place during the off-season, will cost around $300 million and the Ricketts family is prepared to fund the restoration project. The Cubs are still looking for help from the city, if not financially, then to lift many of the restrictions on what the Cubs can do to Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have plans to add a LED board in left field similar to the one they added last off-season in right field and a jumbotron is part of one proposals that will be made to the city.
The project is moving forward and the first phase will begin next off-season. The Cubs are essentially planning to rebuild Wrigley Field to the way it was circa 1935 but with modern amenities.
Wrigley Field Restoration
Over the course of the last three years, the Cubs front office has researched the ballpark’s design history, architectural elements, past traditions and solicited input from Cubs fans, season tickets holders and the community.
In front of a standing room only crowd, Crane Kenney began the session by saying, “Apparently a few people care about Wrigley.” Kenney added, “I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited at a Cubs Convention as I am right now.” The session focused on the Cubs plans to restore Wrigley Field and there was very little question and answer with the fans.
Kenney explained that the drawings we were all about to see were conceptual drawings and not architectural renderings so the plans could change slightly. The Cubs goal is to preserve and restore Wrigley Field for several reasons.
They must provide the players with better facilities because the current facilities are the worst in the game and at the same time they need to improve the experience for the fans. The Cubs also want to make sure they are good neighbors.
The entire project will cost around $300 million and will create 2100 jobs over the five-year span.
The new clubhouse will feature a new batting cage, an expanded dugout, an improved clubhouse and training facility with rehab equipment.
The Cubs goal is to restore Wrigley’s façade to the way it was in 1935. They have done extensive research back to when the park was first built in 1914 by Charles Weeghman and Zachary T. Davis. Weeghman Park, as Wrigley Field was known then, took seven weeks to build and cost $250,000. The Wrigley family did the last major renovation in 1937 that is when the bleachers were built, the ivy was planted and the scoreboard was constructed while moving it from left field to centerfield.
The Cubs made numerous visits to other historic parks (Fenway Park, Lambeau Field and the Rose Bowl) and used that research to assemble the right team to help facilitate what Crane Kenney called the greatest restoration project ever.
All of the work will be done over the course of five off-seasons. The Cubs will not have to play a single home game outside of Wrigley Field but the timing must be perfect and the project must stay on time.
Jed Hoyer said that the promise of this project was a big plus for him and Theo Epstein taking the job with the Cubs. Hoyer said the changes needed to Wrigley are similar to the ones Fenway Park needed. The Red Sox restored Fenway the right way according to Hoyer because it still looks like the same field as the one he visited when he was 10 years old.
Crane Kenney waited to take Hoyer and Epstein into the Cubs’ current clubhouse until after they accepted the job. Hoyer said the condition of the home clubhouse surprised him and said it is about 50 percent smaller than most Major League teams.
When Epstein and Hoyer first saw the clubhouse, they asked about the infamous net hanging in the corner of the small clubhouse. And when they were told that is where pinch-hitters warm up before hitting they thought Kenney was joking. The Cubs strength and conditioning room is currently smaller than an elementary classroom.
Hoyer said the facilities should be upgraded to about Major League average when the project is complete which is to be expected in an old ballpark.
The Cubs are cutting the ribbon on the new facility in the Dominican Republic in May and on the new facility in Mesa in November. They are happy about being able to tie in all of the improvements being made throughout the organization together.
The Cubs are planning on eliminating the LED board that is currently located underneath the scoreboard in centerfield. That was added in 1983. They are planning to add a fan deck in left field, similar to the one in right field, and are proposing another LED board similar to the one they added in right field last year.
The Cubs moved their offices out of Wrigley and across the street. They plan to build a restaurant in the old office space.
A revised version of the Triangle Building is still in the plans. The original concept has been altered and this is where the hotel will be located.
Check back on Sunday for recaps from the final two sessions of the 2013 Cubs Convention.
2013 Cubs Convention Recaps
- Day One of the 2013 Cubs Convention … Familiar Faces in a New Place
- Day Two of the 2013 Cubs Convention … The Ricketts Family Forum
- Day Two of the 2013 Cubs Convention … Meet the Cubs Baseball Management
- Day Two of the 2013 Cubs Convention … From Draft Day to the Big Leagues
- Day Two of the 2013 Cubs Convention … Dale Sveum and the Coaching Staff