Over the years, Cubs fans have clamored to keep Wrigley Field the way it is. It took a monumental leap to have night games, events other than sporting events and making any cosmetic changes to Wrigley Field .
The Ricketts family bought the Cubs in January of 2009. Part of their commitment in the offseason was $10 million in renovations to Wrigley Field. New Chairman Tom Ricketts said the changes are meant to improve the overall experience for everyone who comes through the gates.
As the Cubs held their 2010 home opener, some of the renovations were visible and others were in places the fans do not have access to.
Even Wrigley Field's biggest fans have decried that the park is too antiquated. The Ricketts were motivated by what could be renovated in the five month offseason.
Major upgrades have been made to the Cubs clubhouse with the players' comfort in mind and to help them compete better. A 60 inch television, an upgraded players lounge and a new kitchen with a menu approved by a nutritionist have been added for 2010. The players menu has been upgraded to include healthier options. They have eliminated Lou Pinella's beloved soft drinks and ice cream from the clubhouse.
The home opener was the first chance for the players to see Wrigley's renovations. The weight rooms have been moved and enlarged from the clubhouse into the space that previously was the umpire's weight room. The previous weight room is now the players lounge with new leather couches and chairs. The umpires moved to the first base side near the visitors dugout.
Structural changes have been made to bring Wrigley up to scale in 2010. The left field wall received brick renovations, the scoreboard was renovated to restore it to its 1937 look, concrete was replaced throughout the park, some of the ramps have been repaired, and giant posters of the players were put up outside the main entrance on Addison Street.
The restrooms at Wrigley have gotten a major upgrade. Fourteen urinals have been added on the first floor men's restroom, in addition to the antiquated troughs. The women's restrooms received 15 new stalls, new lighting, ceiling tiles, flooring, and partition walls.
The new PNC Club was created from six sky boxes along the third baseline next to the owners suite. It holds 71 fans and will offer top-shelf liquor, concierge service, catered meals, and both indoor and outdoor seating.
The PNC Club will also be open to season ticket holders on non-game days. PNC Club members will have the opportunity to purchase additional tickets for select Cubs games and other events at Wrigley and includes parking, food, and beverage for the tidy price of $48,000 for two season tickets.
The PNC Club wasn't the only major upgrade the Cubs made. Along the right field line, the Cubs created a pedestrian mall and lounge. As part of that area, the team opened up an section for the fans to watch the players hit in the batting cages through a one-way mirror. The Sheffield Grill, also located along the right field line, will now be open to all day of game ticket holders. It was previously used for private parties.
In the past, Wrigley Field was sub-par when it came to concession food in comparison to other major league parks. In the past few years, the food has been upgraded. The Ricketts have pushed the food options at Wrigley even further. Bison is the new star on the Wrigley Menu this summer. Two choices of Bison Hot Dogs are on the new, upgraded menu. A traditional stadium hot dog and a foot-long Bison dog includes bleu cheese, coleslaw, and buffalo sauce. A Bison Burger is the third Bison Option.
Many credited the Tribune ownership with making the Cubs competitive. The Ricketts family seem committed to taking that another step. The upgrades made to Wrigley in the 2009-10 offseason are likely the first step. Expect changes on a continual basis to keep Wrigley Field in the 21st century. Dining clubs, sky boxes and suites and extensive food options are expected by fans that are far more sophisticated than fans of past eras. The Ricketts family continue to upgrade Wrigley Field while maintaining its old school charm.
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