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More Wrigley Field Renovation Plans Revealed

Construction, though, has yet to begin.

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

The Cubs haven't actually made any significant changes to the revised renovation plans revealed a couple of months ago (larger version of the photo above here), but the Tribune, through a Freedom of Information Act request, has learned more about exactly how the team is going to proceed, in several phases:

The document also says that the Cubs hope to complete most of their Wrigley Field renovations by the start of the 2017 season.

But [Cubs spokeman Julian] Green said the timeline does not include all the renovations planned for Wrigley and is merely an update to existing plans. The team said work actually will take four off-seasons, meaning construction will occur through the 2017 off-season. The entire project, including a hotel across from Wrigley on Clark and a plaza south of Clark and Waveland Avenue, is expected to be finished by opening day 2018.

The Cubs have split the $375 million project — an additional $200 million will be spent on developing the area surrounding the ballpark — to repair and modernize the 100-year-old stadium into two phases.

The first phase of the renovations is scheduled to begin after this season and focuses on work to raise team revenue: expanding the bleachers, installing the Jumbotron over left field and adding interior signage. The team has said it would upgrade the home clubhouse, which did not need landmark approval, as soon as possible. The Cubs plan to begin other major changes — such as installing a new gate on the west side of the ballpark, relocating bullpens from along foul-lines to underneath the bleachers, and building a new visitor's clubhouse — after next season.

Other significant notes from the Tribune article:

  • The Cubs plan to install "bunker suites" -- suites that would have no view of the field, but would instead lead to seating areas -- beneath the concourse down the third-base line.
  • The Cubs plan to "reassemble" the "caretaker's cottage" along Waveland Avenue (it's just west of Gate K) on a new foundation. Years ago, Cubs groundskeeper Bobby Dorr lived there; now it's used for office space.
  • Some of the ramps to the upper deck will be removed and replaced with stairs. For disabled fans, this won't be an issue as the Cubs plan to add "at least" 10 elevators.
  • There could be additional signage on the grandstand facade, which could include a ribbon-style board. The Cubs have been working with the National Park Board "in an effort to earn a spot on the coveted National Register of Historic Places and receive federal tax credits. The historic preservation tax credit is equal to 20 percent of qualifying rehabilitation costs."

However! (There always seems to be a "however" involved in this project, doesn't there?)

One factor that could delay construction is if the owners of 15 rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley sue the team for obstructing their views with the Jumbotron and advertising signs in the outfield. The two sides continue to negotiate, a requirement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel last month for the team to have the landmarks commission vote on the team's latest proposals.

You can interpret that paragraph any way you'd like; to me, it reads as if Rahm only agreed to have that vote if the Cubs and the rooftops agreed to keep talking, which, according to the article, they are -- one reason, I suspect, no construction has yet started, not even on the fancy new underground clubhouse the team is planning to build underneath the triangle property west of the ballpark.

As always, we await further developments.