Revamped Wrigley Field welcomes Cubs fans at home opener

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Revamped Wrigley Field welcomes fans
EMBED <>More Videos

Fans were treated to a win and a refurbished Wrigley Field as Cubs hosted the Cincinnati Reds the Monday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fans were treated to a win and a refurbished Wrigley Field as the Cubs hosted the Cincinnati Reds for the home opener Monday night. Crews spent the weekend working at a frenetic pace to get things ready for both players and fans.

Construction is still heavy and work crews continue to buzz inside and out as the ballpark keeps transforming, but there is already a lot to be seen.

"Showing all the old parts from the like 1910s, 1920s, looks great," said fan Jon Kingston. "The iron work, it's beautiful."

In addition to the renovated iconic marquee, which was put back up last week after a nearly half-year absence, and an exterior facade which is being restored to look the way it did in the 1930s, fans will be treated to improved centerfield bleachers and new restrooms.

"I'm surprised how far it's come in the last week," said fan Kim Lendway. "Honestly, I didn't think they'd be ready. It looks great. The outside looks amazing."


For the first time, fans passed through an extra layer of security before making their way into the Friendly Confines Monday night.

Dozens of metal detectors now line the gates outside Wrigley Field as part of a league-wide initiative that began last year. The Cubs got a pass last season because of construction underway at the ballpark.

The Cubs said fans should plan ahead and leave extra time for the additional security screening. Wrigley Field will now open 30 minutes earlier than usual to accommodate the longer lines.

"Being in Anaheim last week with these things, all I can say is get here early. You'll be in line for a while," Jody Isaacson said.

"If your usual custom is to wait for Wayne Mesmer to hit his last note before you walk across the street, we'd encourage you to get here a little sooner," said Crane Kenney, Cubs President of Business Operations.

The Cubs are also lobbying the city to close streets around Wrigley, including bustling Clark and Addison, which are major thoroughfares for vehicles and commerce. Despite the Cubs' security concerns, the city says the plan is a non-starter.

"My view about closing Clark and Addison, that's a swing and a miss. Not gonna happen, not the right way to do it, you can't close down that thoroughfare, but we're going to accomplish all the safety and security people need," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.


As the Cubs prepared for the home opener, they are already off to a great start and hoping to live up to some preseason predictions of a World Series championship - words that don't flow easily from a Cubs fan's mouth.

"People should have high expectations. We have a good team. But, that doesn't give you anything except high expectations. We have to execute on the field," Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said.

A lot has changed in a year. Last season's home opener found Wrigley Field's bleachers covered with plywood and much of the ballpark a construction zone.

This year, more of the work is done, including the centerpiece - a new clubhouse for the team. Players had their first look late Sunday night.

"It's off the charts. It's the best in baseball. I know the guys came by around midnight last night on their way home from the Arizona road trip and I think they were all blown away," Ricketts said.

Fans will also notice some changes at Wrigley, like the fact you can see the backside of the famous marquee from inside the park for the first time. The owner is riding high, signing autographs, posing for pictures and hoping for a big celebration in October.

"This team has the ability to win our division and go deep in the playoffs. I'd be very disappointed if we didn't," Ricketts said.

"I got a little nervous with Schwarber going out already, but a 5-1 start is amazing. That's why we're Cubs fans, we're eternal optimists," said Carey Randall.

Wrigley businesses are counting on a big year as they got ready for the season opener. Business was already hopping at SportsWorld, where sweatshirts were the big seller Monday.

"We get to see fans again, we get to see smiling faces, we get to see people happy to be back at the ball park after 6 months," said Bradley Rosen, SportsWorld Chicago.

And no one was happier at Wrigley than newlyweds Elizabeth and David Leach. They planned their wedding around Opening Day.

"You are looking at a Yankees fan that loves her more than the Yankees, who decided to come to Chicago. She's never been to Wrigley Field, she's never been to a home Cubs opening. So Opening Day in Chicago, I couldn't have given her a better day than come here," David Leach said.