WRIGLEYVILLE — Too busy this offseason to swing by Wrigley Field — or too savvy to get stuck in construction traffic? You might notice some big changes come Opening Day on Monday.
Here's your chance to brush up on the what's been underway since October so you're not caught off-guard. While some changes might go unnoticed, others will have a big impact on your way into Wrigley.
Ariel Cheung reports on last-minute renovations from the ballpark.
Inside the ballpark
Remember last year's long bathroom lines at Wrigley Field? The Cubs are hoping bathroom expansions — the women's restroom near the First Aid station and the men's restroom near the western gate — will prevent a repeat of 2015.
The ticket office has moved to its permanent new location, while the ballpark's facade was replaced piece by piece over the winter. Crews just started replacing side panels this week.
Metal detectors at Wrigley Field are among security changes for this year that have the Cubs warning fans to get to the ballpark as early as possible. Wrigley Field will open at 4:35 p.m., providing an extra 30 minutes for fans on top of the usual two hours before the game starts.
Soon after the Cubs ended their postseason run, the iconic Wrigley Field marquee came down in November. The sign was taken down for safekeeping and maintenance work while the ballpark's facade was replaced over the winter. The Cubs plan to install the marquee on Wednesday afternoon.
Construction crews remove the marquee from Wrigley Field to make way for renovation work on Nov. 2. The marquee will be returned to its perch above Clark and Addison ahead of Opening Day 2016. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Budweiser Bleacher upgrades
Last year's debut of the new Budweiser Bleachers took longer than expected — the bitter cold winter led to weather delays that put construction behind schedule. The bleachers were fully finished by the Fourth of July. This year, Wrigley adds a new bar at the gates at Sheffield and Waveland avenues and an elevator.
A replica ivy wall and five display cases with Cubs history are also additions to the bleachers. Below the scoreboard, four fans will snag reserved seats in the Pepsi Batter's Eye at center field. The suite has been renamed the Fannie May Bleacher "Sweet" and offers upgraded dessert packages, cheesecakes and Fannie May chocolate trays.
In late March, fencing still blocked off the Budweiser Bleachers, which anchor the ballpark's northeast corner at Waveland and Sheffield. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
New food spots
There are plenty of food options to sink your teeth into this year at Wrigley.
Gilbert's Craft Sausages will open a grill cart in the main concourse, serving up fancy dogs like the Aloha chicken sausage, topped with pineapple salsa, lime aioli hot sauce and crushed potato chips. The Hot Doug's stand connected to the Budweiser Bleachers has new options as well.
Chicago's Buona Beef is joining up as the team's official Italian beef, while Tito's Vodka is working on a "Brunch at the Ballpark" package that includes bloody marys and breakfast foods on Sunday home games.
And no prizes for guessing the location of the new Marquee Grill — below the newly refurbished marquee (see above) on the main terrace.
The Cubs revealed new food options at Wrigley Field last week ahead of Opening Day. [Provided/Chicago Cubs]
Revved-up parking lots
A partnership with Toyota leaves two Wrigley Field parking lots a little less colorful. The Brown Lot is now the Toyota RAV4 Lot, and the Green Lot have been renamed the Toyota Camry Lot. The remote lot at 3900 N. Rockwell and the Irving Park Lot are keeping their names — for now.
While fans won't spend too much time inside the state-of-the-art clubhouse, it's a pretty solid bet the players will enjoy this renovation benchmark. The new clubhouse should be ready for the team when it returns to Chicago next week, complete with an amphitheater, batting cage, dining area and yoga studio.
A temporary Cubs batting tunnel and the visiting team's temporary batting area and weight room will also be ready.
What won't be ready
Like last year, work will continue during the Cubs season. The Wrigley Field plaza, for example, won't be ready for use until the fall. In addition, the Cubs are still hammering out the finer details of the plaza's plan of operations, which will be controlled through a city ordinance.
At Clark and Waveland, the steel frame of the Cubs' future office building has been in the works since November. But the team won't be ready to move in until January 2017.
Across the street, McDonald's is no more. The Ricketts family is building a hotel on the corner property that used to house the fast food joint and the Cubs Store. McDonald's will return inside the hotel once it's finished in late 2017 or early 2018.
At the southeast corner of Clark and Addison, demolition will begin soon to make way for Addison & Clark, a $140 million mixed-use development formerly known as Addison Park on Clark. The project should take about two years.
Rubble from McDonald's and the Cubs Store was cleared away after demolition in March to make way for a hotel. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
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