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Start of Wrigley Construction Closes Streets, Leaves Tourists Disappointed

By Josh McGhee | September 29, 2014 2:00pm | Updated on September 29, 2014 2:23pm
 Construction at the 100-year-old ballpark began Monday in Wrigleyville clossing off Sheffield Avenue and Waveland Avenue.
Wrigley Field Construction
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CHICAGO — Construction began at Wrigley Field Monday morning, making driving and parking in the congested area even harder and making a frequent tourist stop a lot less accessible.

The goal of the project is to debut a bleacher expansion, five outfield signs and two video boards by Opening Day 2015, a spokesman for the team said.

While residents have been preparing for the $575 million project for weeks, they gave mixed reactions on the impact of the neighborhood so far.  Since Friday, portions of Waveland and Sheffield Avenue alongside Wrigley have been closed for construction; they won't reopen until March.

"It's a big mess," said one longtime resident who declined to give his name. "You can't get up and down Sheffield and Waveland. How about the people that live right here? ... It's only going to get worse."

The Cubs are working with the city and residents around the streets to create a traffic plan. Waveland Avenue still will have a lane of westbound traffic open during construction to accommodate fire trucks and ambulances for the fire station at 1052 W. Waveland Ave, Cubs officials said.

Others understood the goal of the renovations.

"It seems okay," said Adam Schofield, 41, a resident of the area for the past six years. "You always got to maintain these properties, but there's always a fine balance between upgrading to the 21st Century and messing with history."

Meanwhile, some tourists were disappointed.

Wayne Welsh, 55, came from Wyoming to visit his daughter, Hannah, in Lincoln Park, and made a detour to Wrigley Field. His late aunt was a huge  fan and he would've liked to tour the stadium.

[She] was a big Cubs fan, so I wanted to get a picture in front of Wrigley. She watched them for years on WGN," Welsh said.

His daughter, Hannah was equally upset when she realized she had missed her opportunity to catch a glimpse of the pre-construction Wrigley Field.

"I've lived here for a few months, now, I'm thinking maybe I should've gone to a game. I didn't know it was going to change so soon," she said.

David Flores, 27, an avid baseball fan from Puerto Rico, was on a personal tour of Midwest stadiums. He had caught a Cubs game at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Paul Konerko's last game at U.S. Cellular Field and was hoping for a tour of Wrigley Field.

"It's amazing. There's a lot of history here," Flores said gazing at the stadium from outside the construction Monday. He'll have to come back to get inside.

"I need to return. I think having the possibility to be inside the park, touch the wall and look out at the dugouts is very exciting," Flores said.

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