CHICAGO -- While the Cubs' front office is focused on finding players for the 2018 season, the next phase of the renovation at Wrigley Field is underway, and this offseason's work will result in new club box and field box seats, an improved concourse, more netting to protect fans and
CHICAGO -- While the Cubs' front office is focused on finding players for the 2018 season, the next phase of the renovation at Wrigley Field is underway, and this offseason's work will result in new club box and field box seats, an improved concourse, more netting to protect fans and wider dugouts.
Vice president of Wrigley Field restoration and expansion Carl Rice said the netting that was behind home plate will be expanded to protect fans from foul balls and errant bats.
"We have already committed that we'll have the netting go to the edge of the dugout, and since the dugout is moving farther down, the netting needs to extend for that, and we're evaluating other changes," Rice said.
The dugouts will not only move closer to the first- and third-base bags, respectively, but they will be wider. The TV camera booths will now be on the other side of the dugout and closer to home plate.
This part of the Wrigley Field restoration project is one of the largest phases, Rice said.
"Each phase has its own unique character to it," Rice said. "The [home] clubhouse phase was a huge phase and a very big expense. Last year, getting the home plate club started and getting the big dig done and what we did on the outside was big. This [current phase] is the big concourse, fan amenity phase."
Crews are putting the finishing touches on the new American Airlines 1914 Club, which will be located behind home plate, and will be ready by Opening Day. This offseason, crews are starting the structural work needed to prepare for two other clubs, the Maker's Mark Barrel Room and the "W" Club. Both of those will are expected to be ready by Opening Day 2019.
The Cubs also are updating the concourse, which will include new concession stands.
"When we're finished with this construction season, we'll have 90 percent of the new concessions stands on the concourse finished," Rice said.
Because of the construction schedules, the new stands will not be ready for Opening Day 2018, but they are expected to be finished by July 1.
There will be a new VIP entrance at Clark and Addison Streets near the Wrigley Field marquee, and 10 of the suites behind home plate will be refurbished. Another elevator will be added that will go from the concourse to the upper deck behind home plate.
The players will see changes, too, besides the dugouts. The batting tunnels, which were temporary for both the Cubs and the visiting teams this year, will now be permanent. The visitors' clubhouse will be remodeled after the 2018 season, but teams will see changes this coming year.
"This offseason, we're doing a lot of improvements for the visiting team, which includes a new batting tunnel, a new visiting weight room, a new visiting video room, meeting space -- all of that is happening behind the dugout," Rice said.
Hopefully, visiting teams aren't expecting a 30,000-square foot clubhouse similar to what the Cubs have. There simply isn't room. Instead, the visitors will have the same amenities they do on the road at other Major League ballparks, but they will be on two levels.
The renovation, called the 1060 Project, began at the conclusion of the 2014 season. The next phase of construction after the '18 season will focus on the remainder of the suites, the upper deck, the right-field corner and the visitors' clubhouse. The Cubs are still evaluating their options regarding changes to the press box.
NOTE: The photo of Wrigley Field is courtesy of Aerialscapes.com photographer Curtis Waltz, who has been documenting the renovation work at the ballpark and providing updates on Twitter, @WrigleyAerials.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.