WRIGLEYVILLE — Hoping to get into Wrigley Field in time for the first pitch? Maybe skip the marquee selfies.
Predicting long lines as fans navigate new security measures at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs are opening the ballpark earlier than usual for Opening Day — particularly at Clark and Addison.
"Everyone loves to walk under the marquee, but that's where it's the most congested around the first pitch," said Heather Way Kitzes, who manages neighborhood relations for the Chicago Cubs.
Metal detectors will greet Cubs fans Monday as Wrigley becomes the last ballpark in the league to implement the security measure. While the club was granted an extension to the 2015 mandate, the scanners will be in place for Opening Day, the team said.
Expecting the change to delay entrance into the ballpark, the Cubs will open gates at 4:35 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than the standard two-hour window.
"If you come early anyway, please come a little earlier," Way Kitzes told neighbors. Using the gate marked on your tickets will also help alleviate congestion, she said.
The scanners will be used in addition to bag checks already in place at Wrigley Field. Fans will have to remove keys, cameras, phones and other metal items before walking through the detectors.
Those who set off the detectors might be subject to additional checks with a handheld wand, the Cubs said.
Unlike airport security, some items don't need to be removed before stepping through the scanner, like jackets, belts, shoes, watches and wallets. Express lanes will also be available for attendees without bags or containers.
The Cubs are all but pleading with fans to arrive as early as possible, repeatedly warning of the additional time it will take to get through entry lines. The club advised fans to leave prohibited items and unnecessary accessories at home to save more time.
Children must walk through the scanners, while parents can carry infants and toddlers through them.
Crews have started placing panels along the Wrigley Field facade one week before Opening Day. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
While the metal detectors are the biggest security change for 2016, the Cubs are also reminding people heading to the ballpark about other safety regulations. Bags can be up 16-by-16-by-8 inches. Weapons, drones, laser pointers, car seats, noise makers and non-sealed plastic bottles are prohibited.
The Cubs looking into the viability of floated plans to block portions of Clark and Addison streets on game days, but the proposal is still in the works, officials said. There could also be alternatives to closing two major Lakeview streets that would still enhance safety, although police still have the option of blocking off the streets in response to the large crowds.
Major League Baseball has been working on security improvements for the last three years. The league mandated new measures like screening bags, inspecting vehicles around the ballpark and random sweeps in 2015.
The league granted the Cubs a one-season extension due to the ongoing renovations at Wrigley Field. The $500,000 metal detector program involved hiring more part-time workers for screenings.
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