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See What The Cubs Are Building This Off-Season For Wrigley Plaza, Clubhouse

By Ariel Cheung | November 24, 2015 1:22pm | Updated on December 1, 2015 9:52am
 With the Cubs' stellar season at an end, construction is in full swing at Wrigley Field, with a focus this winter on the plaza, clubhouse and office building.   
Wrigley Field renovation plans for winter 2016
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WRIGLEYVILLE — It's not sleigh bells ringing in Wrigleyville — that's the jingle-jangle of construction season.

Wrigley Field renovations are in full swing after the Cubs' post-season cost the construction schedule six weeks off the top. Since the season ended, the marquee has come down and crews finished erecting the steel frame that will become the Cubs office building.

This year, work is focused on the office building, a state-of-the-art team clubhouse and the plaza, which some hope will become a town square for the neighborhood for events and gatherings.

The Cubs envision hosting farmers markets and children's movies on non-game nights and creating an ice rink in the winter. Beyond that, they'd like to host up to 25 larger-scale events on the plaza per year and allow people to carry alcohol within its perimeter.

But that depends on what neighbors will agree to.

The second year of construction at Wrigley Field includes major work on the plaza and office building that will have first-floor retail and dining. [Provided/Chicago Cubs/Rendering by VOA Associates Incorporated]

Earlier this month, the Cubs and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) convened a group of neighborhood leaders to work out the details, said Mike Lufrano, Cubs vice president of community affairs.

Years ago, that discussion was tabled when the plaza was just a distant plan, but "here we are, and the plaza is getting closer to being opened," Lufrano said. The group will continue to meet as its members get feedback from neighborhood organizations.

"My goal for this plaza would be for it to really become a town square of Lakeview and not just an outdoor beer garden during games," said Adam Rosa, president of Hawthorne Neighbors.

The second year of construction at Wrigley Field includes major work on the plaza and office building that will have first-floor retail and dining. [Provided/Chicago Cubs]

But Rosa and other neighbors posed concerns about allowing alcohol on the plaza and not allowing events that will disturb Wrigley Field's neighbors.

Lufrano said events would end at a reasonable time — as late as 10 or 10:30 p.m. on the weekends — and "the important thing is to talk through these questions so we know what we can have, and the neighborhood knows what to expect."

Among possibilities posed is allowing the Cubs to pour into Sheffield Avenue, similar to how the Boston Red Sox use Yawkey Way as an extension of the Fenway Park concourse.

"They, like us, have an old ballpark that doesn't have a lot of space," Lufrano said.

Lufrano discussed the updated renovation plans during the Hawthorne Neighbors meeting Nov. 16. Along with the updates came new renderings of the office building, which has been tweaked slightly from the 2013 version.

A 2013 rendering of the plaza shows a slightly more traditional design compared to the 2015 version. [Provided/Chicago Cubs]

"The vision hasn't changed. It's modified a little bit to further call out elements of Wrigley Field," Lufrano said. The building will still have the planned clock tower and movie screen, which will face into the plaza.

While the Cubs have has "serious discussions about tenants," no confirmations have been announced as to what will occupy the retail and dining space on the office building's first floor.

The office building will take the longest to complete of work this season. The Cubs expect to move from their office at 3717 N. Clark St. into the new structure in January 2017.

The Cubs clubhouse — a remedy for "baseball's worst clubhouse" — should be ready for Opening Day 2016. The plaza, which is located directly above the clubhouse, can be walked on at that point but won't be opening until the mid-summer All-Star break, Lufrano said.

Renderings of the upper level of the Cubs' clubhouse include a batting cage, dining area, meeting room and an amphitheater. [Provided/Chicago Cubs]

Renderings of the lower level of the Cubs clubhouse include space for gym equipment and a yoga studio. [Provided/Chicago Cubs]

Hotel construction where the McDonald's currently stands will begin sometime in the first quarter of 2016, but there isn't a set closing date yet for the fast-food joint, said Cubs spokesman Julian Green.

None of the dates are set in stone, as the extended postseason delayed construction six weeks, Lufrano said.

A 2013 rendering of the hotel that will stand where McDonald's is currently located across from Wrigley Field. An updated rendering is expected during the January 2016 Cubs Convention. [Provided/Chicago Cubs]

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