RedEye's take on the bleachers

By Jimmy Greefield
RedEye
Published February 9, 2006, 10:18 AM CST

Walk past Wrigley Field at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland avenues and it's clear there's still cement to be poured and brick walls to be built before the $13.5 million bleacher expansion project is completed.

But in a news conference at the Friendly Confines on Wednesday, Cubs vice president of operations Marc McGuire said the project will, indeed, be completed in time for the April 7 home opener.

What else did we learn on Wednesday besides the project being on schedule?

Plenty.

So $13.5 million, eh? That's a lot of money just to put in a few seats, isn't it?

Well, with 1,800 new seats, and 145,000 extra bleacher tickets sold per year at an average of around $40 per ticket, that's nearly $6 million in added revenue each season if they sell out the bleachers. And the Cubs always sell out the bleachers.

Fair enough. So what will be the biggest change?

Probably the addition of a walkway that snakes around the back of the bleachers from one foul pole to the other.

Great, then there will be more room to watch the game while standing behind the bleacher seats.

Actually, there won't. The field will not be visible from the walkway except in the far left field corner.

I heard the Cubs are putting some kind of window in the outfield wall so some fans can watch the game from the street.

Sorry, but that's not the case. On non-game days there will be a ground-level view of the field through the right field wall that makes the field visible. But it likely won't be available on game days. McGuire explained it this way: "Frankly, we're not believing that the person on the sidewalk who hasn't bought a ticket is entitled to any view."

I've also heard that I'll be able to exit the bleachers and go into the grandstand area. True?

Yes, that one's true. But because most of the bleachers are still unreserved seating, fans with grandstand tickets won't be able to get into the bleachers.

Most of the bleachers are unreserved? I thought all were unreserved.

All the seating will be unreserved and on traditional benches except for approximately 250 bleacher box seats in the right field corner. Those will cost $60 and go on sale in mid-March along with the dugout and bullpen box seats.

Is a restaurant really being built into the center field bleachers?

Actually, the Cubs are building what is essentially a bleacher version of a skybox. It will hold between 75-100 people and be sold to single groups on a game-by-game basis. They also intend to use it for private events on non-game days.

Will there still be a non-drinking area in the bleachers?

Yes and no. Yes, there will still be about 100 seats in a non-drinking area but it has been moved so that it's now outside the bleachers and now rests on the foul side of the left-field foul pole.

Will there by any wheelchair seating areas?

Yes, two of them. One above the batter's eye and the other in right field near the foul pole.

Will there be added restrooms?

Yes, there will be portable bathrooms on the new walkway and additional men's and women's restrooms are also being built.

Will the rooftops still be visible?

It looks that way, but it also appears some rooftops might have a hard time seeing the field. We just won't know until the project is completed.

Will smoking be allowed anywhere in the bleachers?

Smoking has been prohibited in the seating area for several years. 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 corner of Clark and Addison.


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