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Wrigley Field Construction Update: June 11 Right-Field Bleacher Opening

Here are some photos of the newly-opened RF bleachers.

With the threatening weather forecast, I elected to leave the fancy camera at home. I only brought my pocket camera with me, that did limit my photographic options last night. Sorry for some of the blurry photos in today's photo set.There was a lot to cover and my time was limited. First I have to explain that for us right-field bleacher regulars, yesterday was like opening day. This also happened when the left- and center-field bleachers reopened last month. I was often stopped to say hello to fellow regulars and by employees. In addition to the greetings, there were questions about how I felt about the new right-field bleachers. Since I sit regularly in right field, I was frequently getting asked for my impressions. I never made it to the other side to take any photos of the triangle lot. I never even made it over to visit the left field bleachers. Overall, I am happy with the new right field bleachers. I think the new layout is a bit quirky. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it does add some character back to the ballpark. It does make it a little difficult for the first time guest to navigate. After the game, I found out that a former ballpark employee was out in the bleachers. He tried looking for the group I normally sit with. He couldn't find us with the new configuration. I will start with the right field porch. This area is open to the public, with no seating restrictions on the top two rows of the bleachers in front. I was surprised by this. I expected this to be a group sales section, like the left field porch. (The top two bleacher rows in front of the left field porch are reserved, and not available as general seating.) Of course, this could change in the future. The right field porch is huge. It is a large exposed deck, with no cover. There were two beer stands locate on this "porch". On the north end of this "porch" is the future right field elevator, which will access this level. Only a shaft currently exists, so there's no elevator service at this time.As a result of this large "porch," the patio walkway behind the right field bleachers is almost entirely covered. This does provide shelter from the sun and rain, but it does isolate this space from the ballpark. You no longer feel like you are in the bleachers when walking in right field. There is nothing along this patio walkway but a couple of bar type tables built around a few of the exposed support beams. I have seen illustrations showing concession stands along this currently vacant space. There is also a staircase here, like there was before, leading to ground level.I did take some photos of the upcoming "Platform 14" space. They have fenced off a large portion of the patio walkway, behind center field, to prepare for this portion of the project. They have some concession carts relocated in the few open spaces that are now available, next to the "Platform 14" construction area. The new patio in the space below the right field video board has been significantly expanded. There are three rows of seating, with a large patio space behind it. The private concession stand has also been significantly expanded, and is actually located just behind the right field video board. The space under the board is available as shelter for the patio guests.This expanded space also eliminates one major flaw with the old layout. When the patio was in use by a party, there was no access between the right field bleachers and the grandstands, at the patio level. One would have to go downstairs, and use the ground level "tunnel" walkway to get to the bleacher/grandstand access checkpoint. With the larger patio space, there is still room for a public walkway behind the Patio.They have reinstalled the "ribbon board" atop the bleacher wall in front of the right-field patio. I did take some photos, detailing how they did secure a screen to properly protect it. There was a more primitive screen used to protect the previous screen. Where I sit in the back row of the bleachers, I am actually behind the front face of the right field video board. The board is not located at the back of the bleachers. Anyone sitting toward the back rows, or on the right field porch, will have no view of the right-field video board. Just so you know.I did take some photos of the space under the right field bleachers. For those concerned if there will be enough room for the future bullpens, under the bleachers, I did take one photo (photo 32). Note that this photo is of the narrow portion, where the bleachers taper off in the corner. There will clearly be enough space to accommodate a bullpen.

A few notes from me: I found the new bleachers in right-field to be well done, just as they were in left field. David's right about "quirky" -- there are angles that weren't there before, and above the two "tunnels" they have put two short benches. The view's pretty good from the topmost of these benches, not so much from the lower one, as it's partly blocked by the fence above the tunnel. Overall there are now 21 rows in the sections below the right-field porch. In the old (pre-2005) bleachers there were only 12 rows, and I believe 17 or 18 in the 2005 edition of the bleachers, so you can see where most of the new seats were added.

There is one potential problem and one quirk I wanted to tell you about. The problem can be seen in photo 5. The bench at the left of that photo was one that was not demolished in the construction project. See the height of the railing behind it? That's low enough for people to rest their backs, and low enough for someone standing behind to see over and rest their arms. The bench across the aisle has a much higher railing; it's impossible to do either of those things. Perhaps this was intentional, but it looked uncomfortable for anyone sitting in that row.

Second, and I didn't see David or I would have asked him to take a photo of this, and I will do this today, the basket has been restored to the area beneath the right-field ribbon board -- except where the gate opens. There is no basket there, just the wall. This will likely require replay reviews if balls hit in that location -- where, exactly, is the home-run line? If the ball lands in the basket just to the left or right of those gates, it's a home run. But if it hits the same height right at those gates, what is it? There's no clearly visible yellow line.

We'll have more photos here tomorrow.