When the Chicago Cubs purchased Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox it was done behind the belief that Epstein was the right man to lead the rebuilding process that would hopefully turn around the fate of a struggling franchise. Part of the appeal to Epstein was his experience in Boston, both in building a roster and in guiding the organization through a stadium rebuilding process. It was always expected that the Cubs wanted his expertise to help them bring Wrigley Field into the current landscape of modern ballparks, ultimately using it as a revenue driver for a consistently competitive team.
Over the weekend at their annual FanFest, the Cubs revealed plans for a $300 Million renovation project that will take roughly five years to complete. Furthermore, the team is prepared to pay for it themselves, if needed, but they’re hopeful that the City of Chicago will be able to kick in some public funds considering the various limitations that the Cubs operate under annually.
Since Wrigley Field is located within a residential neighborhood, the Cubs are faced with more restrictions that most teams in Major League Baseball. They are limited to roughly 30 night games a year, none of which can be scheduled for Friday or Saturday nights. They’re also limited in how much external advertisements they can sell, both in and around the ballpark. The team has asked the city to relax some of these guidelines if the team is to pay for the full extent of renovations as it would permit them to better utilize the stadium, thus recouping the expenditures more effectively. The plans would also create roughly 2,100 jobs in the process, another factor that team ownership hopes will appeal to the taxpayers that live in the neighborhood.
Renovation plans are expected to address a number of things around the ballpark, beginning with the home clubhouse. There are also plans to improve stadium restrooms, the expansive concourse and concessions. Aspects of the stadium that make it a historical landmark – the center field scoreboard and the famed ivy – will remain untouched.
When ownership in Boston stepped in and “upgraded” Fenway Park is became a boost for the city, the team and the fanbase. They increased seating capacity, improved the fan’s experience and gave people a reason to start coming to games again – with some help from an improved product on field. Chicago can hope for much of the same, presuming that Epstein can successfully rebuild the roster while the organization rebuilds their fabled stadium.