The Cubs are still three or four offseasons away from finishing the renovations at Wrigley Field. The team is terming much of the work a "restoration," as they are replicating some of the look that the ballpark had in what's considered its "Golden Age," the 1930s.
You'd probably like what happened on the field in that era, if you include 1929 -- four pennants in 10 seasons, to happen over the next decade. I know I would.
I've arranged these photos, some of which were taken by David Sameshima, some by me, in thematic fashion.
First, you can see in photo 1 some of that "Golden Age" look in the 16 new ticket windows on the Addison Street side. The terra cotta and steelwork (it's supposed to resemble the 1930s wrought iron, but it's galvanized steel) look gorgeous. You can get some idea of how much room will be on the new plaza when it opens by the large open area behind the ticket windows. There's really even more room than shows there; when the plaza opens either late this year or early next, that will really open up the entire area along the west side of the ballpark.
Many of you followed the unveiling of the main gate and reinstallation of the marquee on the Sports World live webcam. Turning the tables on them, I thought you'd like to see exactly where this camera is located -- check out photo 2.
Photos 7, 8 and 9 show some of the crowds outside the park around 6 p.m. or so. As I noted in the game recap, there were large crowds at Gate K (photo 10) at around 6:40. But by the time of the first pitch, almost every seat was filled. Kudos to the Cubs for getting pretty much everyone into the park by game time, on a day when they were using the new security system for the first time.
Photo 11 shows the back of the marquee, painted in its original colors, behind the "Marquee Grill," which is an ordinary hot-dog stand. That's just one angle of the back of the marquee; you can walk around other sides of this cart and see pretty much the whole thing. It's at the back of the terrace-reserved area behind home plate.
The rest of this gallery was taken in the bleachers.
Photos 12, 13 and 14 are of plaques honoring Cubs Hall of Famers, 15 in all. They're on the inner wall on the right-field side. The wording below each nicely-done drawing of each Hall of Famer is the exact wording on their plaque in Cooperstown.
Photos 15 through 19 are of the "bleacher bar" that's now near the main entrance. This is an area that used to house a beer-serving cart, a small gift shop, and restrooms. The restrooms still exist -- they are behind the back wall you see in those photos, connected to the newer restrooms completed in the previous renovation. I was in the men's room a little after 6 p.m. It was pretty crowded, but people seemed to be moving in and out of there reasonably well.
The bar area was busy but not overcrowded, and as you can see, they have set up some tables with stools where people can sit and enjoy their adult beverages. There are TV monitors so you don't miss any of the game.
The replica ivy wall, also on the right-field side (photos 20-23) was attracting quite a number of people for photo ops. They did a nice job of replicating the outer wall when the ivy is in full bloom.
The Cubs have also put a number of colorful signs, with some designs taken from 1950s-era scorecards, on walls throughout the bleachers, a nice touch that brings a new area back to a previous time. Photos 24, 25 and 26 are a sample of this, though there are other similar signs at other locations. The ticket windows shown in photo 26 won't sell tickets outside; they are designed, as noted, for fan services and similar things.
But the real exciting things placed in the bleachers are the five display cases of Cubs and Wrigley Field history. It's impossible to describe how much detail and how much work went into these; you really should see them for yourself. Some of the items you can see clearly in these photos include one of the original Shawon-O-Meters (one of the others is in the Smithsonian in Washington), the onesie worn by Jake Arrieta on the trip back to Chicago after his no-hitter, and a filled-out scorecard from the highest-scoring game in major-league history, a 26-23 Cubs win over the Phillies on August 25, 1922.
There's so much more I can't even begin to describe it. You really need to see these for yourself.
The scoreboard (photo 36) looks great after its new paint job. David took a scoreboard photo just as the operators were inserting the "1" after the Cubs' first hit. The board does look a bit brighter than last year, though I don't think the lighting has changed. The new paint helps.
Finally, the center-field countdown clock has been relocated from under the scoreboard to the metal panel in front of the center-field bleachers (photo 38) and you can see quite a bit more advertising on the pads on the wall on the right-field side (there are similar ads on the left-field pads).
With quite a bit more renovation to go, I can say that what the Cubs have done so far is magnificent. Well done, Cubs.