CHICAGO -- Fans interested in tracking the restoration of Wrigley Field and showing their support for the project can follow the progress on a new website, WrigleyField.com, which the Cubs launched on Tuesday.
The site, titled "Restore Wrigley Field," gives fans a chance to view artist's renderings of the proposed changes to the 99-year-old ballpark. In addition, fans are encouraged to sign a petition to let the team, city and community know they back the project.
The website, which will be linked to Cubs.com, outlines the $500 million plan that the Ricketts family has proposed for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, including the addition of a hotel at Clark and Addison, where a McDonald's is currently located. There are drawings of the plaza proposed for Clark Street next to the ballpark, and the new restaurant at Addison and Sheffield streets.
The restoration will be conducted over five offseasons; updates will be provided on the new website.
Did you miss the initial announcements? The "Frequently Asked Questions" section covers all of the topics, including whether the Cubs will have to play elsewhere -- they will not -- and the economic impact on Chicago and the region. According to the Cubs, the project will create approximately 2,100 jobs, including 1,300 permanent and 800 construction jobs.
What should be encouraging to fans is that the design plan was formed using preservation architects who have worked on Fenway Park, the Rose Bowl, Camden Yards and Lambeau Field. The goal is to return Wrigley Field to its 1930s grandeur but make it much more functional. The Cubs will use recycled materials in the restoration; install energy-efficient water, heating and air-conditioning systems; and make Wrigley as environmentally efficient as possible.
The changes also will make for a better fan experience. When the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs and the ballpark in October 2009, they stressed that one of their goals was to preserve Wrigley Field. The proposed renovation will restore the facade of the ballpark and replace aging concrete and steel, which is needed to keep Wrigley Field operating for years to come.
There will be increased concession space, open concourses and more restrooms under the new plan. Among the additions will be a restaurant behind the marquee on Clark and Addison that will be open 365 days a year. The current suites will be expanded and upgraded.
Drawings of the changes can be found on the website, which also features illustrations of the proposed 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard projected for left field as well as the 1,000-foot advertising sign projected for right field.
Want to show your support? Sign a petition, adding your name to a list of backers who feel this is a "win for the Chicago economy, the Lakeview community, Cubs fans and the team." A phone number is provided so you can call 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney and tell him why Wrigley Field is special to you and why the restoration is necessary. You also can join the community campaign and receive email updates on the project.
"I always believed, and I still believe, it's in everyone's best interest to do what's right for Wrigley Field," chairman Tom Ricketts said in April. "It's a special place and has a special role in baseball history."
In addition to being the home of the Cubs, Wrigley Field is the third-largest tourist attraction in Illinois and provides a huge economic boost to the city of Chicago.
The restoration plan was to begin with the home clubhouse, but that may change, depending on how long it takes to get approval for the project. The team has submitted its plans to the Chicago City Council and Plan Commission.
Players will benefit from the expansion of the home clubhouse, from 13,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet. The space will run from the left-field foul pole to the home dugout, with two batting tunnels added. Renderings are posted on the website.
If you love Wrigley Field, and want to see it preserved and prosper, this is the site for you.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.