Renovation of Wrigley Field progressing as planned
By Cash Kruth
CHICAGO -- Phase One of the Wrigley Field 1060 Project remains relatively on target despite a cold winter, Cubs officials said Monday afternoon during a media tour of the construction zone.
The left-field concourse work and plaza development are going smoothly, while the bleachers remain a bit behind schedule, as previously announced at Cubs Convention. The center- and left-field bleachers will be ready May 11, with the right-field bleachers opening in early to mid June.
The left-field video board will be ready for Opening Night, while the right-field board won't be installed until the right-field bleachers are nearly complete.
The next two weeks are critical in leading up to Opening Night on April 5, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. The construction crew has lost approximately five work days in the last nine because of cold weather, and the Cubs have had discussions with the city about lifting the current construction hours from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. to a more around-the-clock schedule.
The Cubs have not yet officially made the request, but plan to do so this week, vice president of ballpark operations Carl Rice said. Kenney said the crew would be mindful of the neighborhood and would likely work weekend nights if given the go-ahead.
"These next two weeks are very critical for us," Kenney said. "As everyone knows, April 5 is Opening Day. That day is not moving. So these next couple of weeks, we'll try to recover a couple of lost days from last week with the cold."
Along with the bleachers, the majority of the work has been done on the left-field concourse. The Cubs have added new, stronger beams throughout the concourse and have reinforced about 30 of the approximately 35 main columns. The same will happen on the first-base side in Phase Three of the project.
The beams, some of which were 100 years old, are being replaced to strengthen the base for when the project moves to the upper deck.
"Everything we're doing with the ballpark is about going up; adding new amenities for the upper deck, making it a better experience for our ticket holders," Rice said. "And this is the first phase we need to do, so we can get this done so it can be better in the future."
Although the concourse will be open for the beginning of the season, Rice said work will not be complete until July. That includes concessions and restrooms being under construction.
Work also will continue throughout the season and even during games, when crews will work behind walls in hopes of minimizing the effect on fan experience.
"Throughout this season, you're going to see a lot of work going on and you'll see 'Pardon our dust' signs," Kenney said. "Our fans, as they come through in the 2015 season, will be co-occupying the ballpark with our team from Pepper and our construction group, who will continue to work behind cinder block walls.
"You'll maybe hear a little bit, but hopefully they won't bother people too much. But it is going to be a little dusty and dirty this year."
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.