Wrigley Construction Update: Seats Still Gone, Wooden Framing in Place as ‘Fan Amenity Phase’ Moves Forward

There hasn’t been a tremendous amount of visible progress at Wrigley Field since our last update revealed that the dugouts and most of the seats in the lower bowl had been removed, but the project is moving along. As you can see in the featured image, which came from the @WrigleyAerials tweet below, construction crews have erected wooden framework and may have begun pouring concrete at the bases of the holes they’ve dug out.

“The [home] clubhouse phase was a huge phase and a very big expense,” vice president of Wrigley Field restoration and expansion Carl Rice told Carrie Muskat. “Last year, getting the home plate club started and getting the big dig done and what we did on the outside was big. This [current phase] is the big concourse, fan amenity phase.”

That sounds a lot better than calling it the “Holy s—, what the f— happened to the seats” phase, so I appreciate Rice churching it up a bit.

As we noted in the previous post, the dugouts are being widened and moved farther down the first- and third-base lines, but Muskat adds that the camera wells will move to the home plate side of each dugout. Protective netting will be extended to the edges of the dugouts to protect fans from foul balls and Addison Russell’s bats.

If you were with us last winter, you saw an update featuring a gaping maw behind home plate that was created to house the American Airlines 1914 Club. Work on that premium experience will be completed in time for Opening Day, while the current construction involves setting up the structural framework for the Maker’s Mark Barrel Room and the “W” Club.

The latter two spaces, along with the Catalina Club — located behind home on the upper level — are scheduled to be ready by Opening Day 2019.

New concessions and updates to the concourse are taking place during this phase as well, and Rice said that he anticipates having 90 percent of that work done by Opening Day. Because of the complications brought on by the baseball season, the remaining concession stands are expected to take until around July 1 to finish.

Visiting players will see some improvements to their clubhouse — including new weight, video, and meeting rooms — but the real renovations won’t take place until after the coming season. As Muskat notes, that next phase of construction will also include updates to the remainder of the suites, the upper deck, the right-field corner, and possibly even changes to the press box.

What they’re basically doing is totally rebuilding Wrigley Field several pieces at a time over a period of years. They’ve updated the bleachers more than once, replacing the original bricks along the way. Most of the concrete in the ballpark has been either replaced or reinforced already, and the structural support has been strengthened or replaced as well.

I know not everyone appreciates the changes and feels that some of the updates/upgrades are either unnecessary or downright blasphemous, but a great deal of what’s being done is actually restorative. Granted, much of that is cosmetic and has taken place in pursuit of the almighty dollar, but this kind of large-scale construction ain’t cheap.

As I’ve done in the past, I’ll close by expressing my amazement that they can continue to take on such massive projects each offseason and still have the ballpark ready to go by Opening Day.

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