ANAHEIM -- Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Harry Caray are back at Wrigley Field. Ernie Banks will join them on Friday. And the marquee at Clark and Addison streets also was expected to be in place in plenty of time before the Cubs' home opener Monday night against the Reds.The
ANAHEIM -- Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Harry Caray are back at Wrigley Field. Ernie Banks will join them on Friday. And the marquee at Clark and Addison streets also was expected to be in place in plenty of time before the Cubs' home opener Monday night against the Reds.
The statues and the marquee were removed this offseason because of construction at the 102-year-old ballpark. The marquee at Clark and Addison streets underwent restoration and is to be installed on Wednesday, the team said.
"The park will be ready Opening Day for the fans," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said Monday.
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Fans will notice crews have returned some of the historic framework at Wrigley Field, replacing concrete slabs and chain-link security fencing with ornamental fencing and terra cotta that previously adorned the façade of the ballpark.
The Williams, Santo and Caray statues were installed Monday. The bronze statues of Williams and Santo are located outside Gate D on the corner of Sheffield Avenue and Addison Street. Caray's statue is outside the entrance to the bleachers at Waveland and Sheffield avenues.
The construction work will continue through the season at the ballpark, and some areas may be fenced off.
The players will see the biggest change. They will be treated to a 30,000-square-foot home clubhouse that includes new batting cages, space for water therapy and even a pilates room.
"It'll be a better place for them to get prepared for the game, which I think ultimately could lead to some more success," Ricketts said.
The new netting is in place behind home plate and now extends from dugout to dugout, per Major League Baseball's recommendation.
"The knot-less netting is more transparent, so I think people will be happy," Ricketts said. "Ultimately, it's safer, and that's what the league was shooting for."
Fans attending Cubs home games are encouraged to arrive earlier to accomodate new security measures. The gates on Monday at Wrigley will open at 4:35 p.m. CT ahead of the 7:05 start time, rather than the usual two-hour window before first pitch.
Ricketts sounded like all other Cubs fans in anticipation of the season.
"We finished so strong last year, the expectations are pretty high," Ricketts said. "I think fans are expecting this to be a really great year for us. People are just excited. I speak for all fans -- let's just get the games going. It was a great year, a great offseason, and we have the makings of a really strong team, so let's just play games."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.