A sneak peek
into the Cubs' $13.5 million Wrigley Field bleacher
project on Wednesday revealed some distinct changes
that weren't discussed in the team's original expansion
At his first news conference regarding the bleachers
since construction to add 1,800 new seats began in
October, Cubs executive vice-president of business
operations Mark McGuire announced the open "knothole"
space in right field won't offer a view from Sheffield
Avenue during games, that the Batter's Eye Suite in
center field won't be accessible to regular ticket-holders
and that the reserved "bleacher box" seats in the
right-field corner will be priced at $60.
McGuire also said the project is on schedule and everything
will be ready for the Cubs home opener April 7 against
He said the organization is confident the new bleachers
will be "well-received" when fans get a look at the
"We're trying to re-create a culture that existed
before, [one] that we appreciate a great deal," McGuire
Here's a brief synopsis of some of the changes in
store for Cubs fans at Wrigley Field this year:
Knothole view: The new section in the right-field
wall replaced a solid metal gate and originally was
supposed to offer fans outside the park a free ground-level
view from behind a chain-link fence on Sheffield.
Local restoration architect John Vinci, a consultant
on the project, said in December the idea was to "give
something back to the people." But McGuire said Wednesday
"the person on the sidewalk who hasn't bought a ticket
isn't entitled" to a free look at the game.
"The feature is really intended to be a plus for a
commuter as he or she walks from their homes to the
L," McGuire said. "They will be able to walk by any
time, any day, and look into the ballpark."
Except when a game is being played.
McGuire said the team is considering installing a
wind screen over the knothole fence on game days.
Fans inside the bleachers, walking through the area
on their way to concessions, will be able to view
the action through a chain-link fence, much like the
Bullpen Sports Bar at U.S. Cellular Field.
Batter's eye: While attempting to get community support
for the project in September 2001, the Cubs sent a
form letter to neighborhood residents announcing the
plans. Among the attributes referred to in the letter
was a "Batter's Eye Restaurant" that would allow bleacher
fans a "chance to view the game through tinted glass
while eating in a new enclosed area in center field."
But McGuire referred to the new structure Wednesday
as a "suite" for 75-100 fans and revealed it would
be sold as a luxury suite.
"It's really a group party area, like a large mezzanine
suite that will be used for group entertainment on
game days," he said. That means groups can rent it
for a game, but fans buying bleacher tickets will
not be allowed inside.
Bleacher boxes: During the recent Cubs Convention,
McGuire revealed the plan for 250 "bleacher box seats"
in the right-field corner.
On Wednesday he announced tickets would be priced
at $60, or $20 more than the highest priced regular
bleacher seat. Unlike the bench seating in the bleachers,
the "box" seats will have backs on them.
Like the dugout boxes and bullpen boxes, these "premium"
seats will not go on sale until around March 15, about
three weeks after individual tickets are sold.
Rooftops and ballhawks: The tops of most of the surrounding
apartment buildings still can be seen from inside
the park, and with the exception of the building next
to Murphy's Bleachers, most of the rooftops still
can see much of the ballpark.
"Our belief is that the rooftop business will thrive,"
The ballhawks, however, may be an endangered species.
Unless they plan on using stilts and fishing nets,
the fans who stand on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues
waiting for balls to leave the park won't get much
action because the additional rows of bleacher seats
are high enough to keep most balls inside the park.
According to the fan blog on Ballhawk.com, 39 home
runs left the ballpark last year, or about one every
other game. The Web site also claimed 756 balls left
the park during batting practices, or about nine per
Look for those numbers to drop drastically.
Smoking: McGuire said the team still is studying the
city's new no-smoking ordinance to see how it affects
the open-air areas in the bleachers and the roof-deck
patio facing the intersection of Clark and Addison.
Smoking has been prohibited in the seating area for