This off-season marked the start of a long, expansive, expensive, and arguably unnecessary renovation project at Wrigley Field, which was supposed to be completed over the course of four off-seasons and leave the stadium fully operational during the summer. According to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, things aren't exactly going as planned.
Ricketts spoke to the City Club of Chicago yesterday, and admitted that the stadium renovations will probably bleed into a fifth year. That wouldn't be a huge deal if the Cubs were able to have each phase of construction started and completed over the course of a single off-season, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Opening night is 10 days away, and enormous chunks of the first phase of construction are far from finished, leaving Wrigley's iconic outfield a total ruin. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
The first phase of the renovation has been beset by delays that will impact the Cubs' Opening Day game against the Cardinals on April 5.
The Cubs announced in January that the bleachers would not be ready until May. Then, earlier this month, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney announced that the right-field bleachers wouldn't be ready until June because of a cold-weather streak.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel denied a request by the team to work around the clock.
The Cubs are considering covering the incomplete bleachers with a tribute to late Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Ricketts said, but nothing has been finalized.
Turning a huge swath of your stadium's seating into a construction pit and then just draping some murals over it and hoping that nobody will notice until June is not really a great plan! That's especially true given that Wrigley, sited near the Lake Michigan shore, is notoriously sensitive to the weather. Could leaving the outfield a giant construction site lead to it becoming one of the greatest hitter's parks of all time for a while—or, conversely, a park in which no one can score a run at all, ever, for any reason? Sure; maybe; who knows? At any rate, who could have seen all these construction delays coming? It's not like Chicago has notoriously brutal winters that make it hard for construction crews to operate.
Anyway, if you live near Wrigley Field and would like to share some photos of the unfinished construction as we get closer to—and even beyond—opening night, please get at us. This seems like an atrocity worth documenting.