The river was green. The beer was green. The faces of far too many patrons of local watering holes were green. But one thing that was not green this St. Paddy’s Day was the grass at Wrigley Field, since it was gone as of Sunday. In what has become an annual rite of passage during the ongoing offseason construction of the 1060 Project, Wrigley’s sod will be replaced just in time for the start of the new year.
— Wrigley Aerials (@WrigleyAerials) March 17, 2019
This isn’t quite the ordeal we’ve seen over the past few years, mainly because the infield isn’t littered with heavy equipment this time around. And since the Cubs don’t come home to play until April 8, there’s more than enough time for the top-notch grounds crew to lay new turf and get it secured in time. That wasn’t the case back in 2017, when extensive construction delayed the installation of grass until the 11th hour.
And while it’s certainly nothing new to see the field replaced each winter, this season’s change is at least a little notable due to the circumstances surrounding it. Not only were the Cubs bounced early from the postseason, but the field wasn’t completely ruined by construction for the first time in a while. As you can see from these aerial shots, the grass looked to be in pretty good shape just last week.
Random renovation shots from our last flight. pic.twitter.com/2rRCP8zT8p
— Wrigley Aerials (@WrigleyAerials) March 13, 2019
Wrigley in March. pic.twitter.com/BMFRRoJEGD
— Wrigley Aerials (@WrigleyAerials) March 12, 2019
I’ve reached out to the Cubs for clarification, but my guess is that a full replacement is the best way to ensure an even playing surface at the start of the season. Harvested sod is going to be much more robust than anything that just survived the Chicago winter, and no amount of tending is going to fill bare spot in the outfield anytime soon.
They go in and replace some of that stuff during the season following concerts, so it only makes sense to do so against before the new year. It’d be silly to lay down new sod before at least mid-March because the weather isn’t conducive to it, and, again, the delayed home opener affords that much more time to get things buttoned up.
This season marks the end of the major construction involved in the 1060 Project, though some lingering cosmetic updates will no doubt continue in perpetuity. There are some new premium clubs on the lower level and the upper deck is getting some new amenities, including additional bathrooms. A new restaurant/retail area is taking the place of the old Captain Morgan Club, but it won’t be completed until mid-season or so.
And if you’re interested in learning more about exactly how commercial sod is grown and harvested, we took a deeper dive into that topic a couple years ago. People were oddly fascinated by it, which is why I’m sharing again.
Update: The new sod has arrived.
We got sod pic.twitter.com/8he59oiHEJ
— Wrigley Field (@WrigleyBlog) March 23, 2019
Update #2: The Sod has been installed!
I can smell the fresh grass from here! pic.twitter.com/ksjYGICap8
— Wrigley Aerials (@WrigleyAerials) March 27, 2019