— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) March 3, 2015
Hooray! That gives the Cubs a little over a month to prepare for Opening Night, which is April 5th. You can check the schedule here, which becomes very relevant in just a moment because we have to talk about the Wrigley Field construction project currently in progress. From before:
Important things to note:
- The bleachers may not be ready for Opening Night, but the goal is to do this right, not fast;
- The Cubs are being very careful to mold the existing construction with new construction to support the new signage;
- The idea is to make sure that our grandchildren can enjoy the ballpark just as we did.
We know already that the “may not” has become a “will not” because the Cubs have been delayed by weather and some issues with sewer lines in the area. The Cubs have reached out to the city of Chicago for additional accommodations, but as you can read here, here, and here, that won’t be as easy as defeating the rooftops in court (that’s something else they have to tackle later on this month, too). Item one:
O’Connor said Tuesday he doesn’t blame the Cubs for asking for extended construction hours to avoid losing millions for every day that the rebuilt bleachers are delayed. But, O’Connor said the Cubs’ request was politically untenable and poorly-timed. “In making the ask, they had to realize there wasn’t much chance that was gonna happen. You can’t expect people to totally abandon their ability to enjoy their community 24-hours-a-day for the Cubs,” O’Connor said.
The Cubs had initially asked for a 24-hour construction, which as you can see from Alderman O’Connor above as well as from Mayor Rahm Emanuel (see the article), is not cool in a residential area. So now the Cubs are asking for an extension from the normal 8-to-8 schedule to 6-to-10, which sounds reasonable but you can totally see the city saying no to that as well. (Update: yeah, the city said no again.)
Regardless, the Cubs realize that they are behind schedule, they have to make good on their promise to have at least part of the bleachers open by May 11, and they don’t really have a contingency plan because at some point, they HAD to tear Wrigley down to build it back up again (at least the bleachers). They had no choice in the matter, and delaying the project would have meant essentially the same problems as this year–especially with global climate change creating what now seems to be annual polar vortexes and stupid random snow–except that they’ll be delayed another year. So then people wonder several things…
- Why didn’t the Cubs just play 2015 in Milwaukee or on the South Side?
- Why did they start construction when they knew it there was a chance it wouldn’t be done in time?
- What’s the contingency plan?
To #1, I think the (arguably, mind you) intelligent, highly-paid people who run business operations figured that Cubs fans wouldn’t want to deal with the inconvenience of having to drive to Milwaukee for a few “home” games at Wrigley North (AKA Miller Park), and there might be some stubborn Cubs fans who have no desire to ever go to the Cell (even though I think it’s a perfectly fine ball park). The Cubs will lose 12 bleachers games in April and three in May before the left field and center field sections are expected (we’ll see) to open on May 11. But if the priority is to have the video boards up first, then they can recoup the 15 or so games of lost revenue through advertising.
To #2, again, they had to start this sometime. There will be the same problems, same weather issues, same having to have patrons deal with the noise and dust. Might as well start it sooner rather than later, especially when they had already lost a year because the rooftops were being dicks and because ownership and business ops wanted to be good neighbors (fat lot of good that did).
To #3, I don’t know that there is any contingency plan. The stadium is now over 100 years old. They had to replace a bunch of steel beams and reroute all the inner ramps so they could expand the concourse. They had to rip up the bleachers and build a much sturdier, more permanent structure to set up the video boards and additional bleachers fans. I’m not an engineer, but it stands to reason that doing all that stuff is, well, difficult.
And despite our optimism, delays were to be expected and the Cubs already set up their contingency plans during the Convention for ticket holders, so it’s not like they didn’t plan for this.
I see “fire Crane Kenney” all the time and while I can’t say I would miss him if that happened, I also don’t see how, given the restrictions from the city/neighborhood and the unique situation that the Cubs are in with respect to Wrigley Field and their alternatives, they can really do much different. I am pleased that the Cubs and their construction crew are still chugging along and will continue to do so throughout the season, and that they are prioritizing doing the renovations right rather than focusing on accommodating our first world problems.
Then again, since I graduated, I don’t get early season discounted tickets anymore so I won’t be going to Wrigley until June or July anyway so I won’t be bothered by this too much. Even if I did go to the park in April, I’d be sitting in the bowl section and not the bleachers. I get why others would be inconvenienced or think of this as an embarrassment for the franchise, but they’ve already gone through multiple losing seasons since the Ricketts Family bought the team, so I figure they have a pretty thick skin anyway. Also, I’m excited to tune in for Opening Night and see how it plays on the broadcast with empty bleachers but a new Jumbotron. And then we have this:
FTFY RT @CubsNoHitStreak: How awesome is it going to be when a construction worker throws back an opponent’s HR ball from the bleachers.
— Andy (@Behind_The_Ivy) March 3, 2015
Exciting! The CCO has a good rundown of the Wrigley renovation details here. In the meantime, stay tuned, folks.