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Wrigley Field construction update: January 20

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Lots of activity near and around the ballpark over the weekend.

BCB’s Mike Bojanowski has a lengthy report on what he saw at the ballpark over the weekend, so let’s get right to it!

These photos were taken early Saturday aftenoon, January 20. It was a brilliant, almost balmy day, especially by comparison with recent temperatures; had a near spring-like feel. Construction and recreational park activities were at a high level.

I started the day with a nature walk in Graceland Cemetery, taking advantage of the weather, also to check on the Cub-themed monuments. As can be seen (photos 1 and 2), the former Cubs in residence were not forgotten this winter.

There were also some visitors of another kind, and I beg a small indulgence by presenting something that may astonish you to consider occurs less than half a mile from Wrigley (photos 3-6). Of course, Graceland is a bastion of urban wildlife, and this is hardly the first time I have seen coyotes there. I have also seen red foxes, many accidental birds, and on one memorable occasion, a Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia), dive-bombing for minnows in Lake Willowmere.

But this is not really meant to be a “Mark Trail” episode, on to the business at hand. The wraps are off on the two new buildings at Gate K/J, only the interior finishes, windows, and doors remain to be installed. They match the style of the recent back bleacher walls, and each flanks the existing gate, the east building is slightly larger. I have heard one is meant to service ticket sales or exchanges, certainly possible.

Elsewhere, much is hidden, as usual, but that which isn’t, primarily the two hotels, should give an idea as to the progress elsewhere. The Hotel Zachary, especially, is rounding into shape rapidly. The new structure evident above and to the north of the marquee hasn’t received very much attention, I assume it will be one of the new elevator shafts, and a significant change to the main profile of the park.

Someone has been having fun with the scoreboard. My little digital camera, unfortunately, doesn’t do zooms. There have been little changes throughout the off-season, and I have been unable to discern a code.

The plaza building lobby has some new modeling; as you enter, you are now greeted by a version of the George Brace photo taken of Ernie Banks on his first day as a major-leaguer. This has always been my favorite portrait of Ernie, before he was Mr. Cub, before the game face we all knew so well later.

And finally, a new Park at Wrigley tenant for the coming year is evident (photo 39). Many thanks for all attention.

The Cubs’ home opener against the Pirates is 11 weeks from today, April 9. Perhaps it will even be as warm as it was over the weekend. Incidentally, this year’s home opener is an afternoon game — the first Wrigley opener to be played in the afternoon since 2014.