Changes to Wrigley bleachers that open today

What’s new for Wrigley’s bleacher opening tonight?

At 4:30 p.m. today, Wrigley Field opens its bleacher gates for the first time this season.

What changes can fans expect to see, as the Cubs host the Mets?

The bleachers were built in 1937, and this season’s renovations are the most dramatic since. Tonight the left- and center-field bleachers open. The right-field bleachers are scheduled to open June 11, when the Cubs host the Reds.

The Cubs have created two new standing-room sections in left field that they are calling “the well,” which sits just behind the ribbon video board on the left-field wall, and “the porch,” which is under the new video board in left-center.

The right-field bleachers will have a porch area behind the benches. There will also be a new concession area in center field called “the platform,” which will feature more concession options and wider walkways for fans to navigate.

“If you think about the history of the bleachers and their importance to the character of Wrigley Field, they’re important,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney told the Tribune last week. “I think there will be some new views from new spaces that were created for our groups. … We’re going to have a great re-opening of a very important part of the ballpark.”

Kenney said the new bleacher areas were installed with an eye toward satisfying the demand for group and corporate ticket sales, and the changes are meant to create an atmosphere that promotes mingling among people who come in a group. The concession “points of sale” will increase from 63 to 86 by July.

A Cubs fan in the left field bleachers catches a home run ball hit by the Brewers’ Mark Reynolds during a 2014 game at Wrigley Field.
Capacity in the bleachers will increase by about 500, which will offset losses the Cubs will sustain in the bowl during other phases of the renovations. Overall capacity at Wrigley Field will remain 42,495, Rice said.

The extra room, which resulted from the team’s purchase of sidewalk space on Waveland and Sheffield avenues, will also enable the Cubs to move the bullpens behind the outfield walls by 2017 and allow them to devote more space to preparing food.

The Cubs removed three rows of bleachers in left field to create the well, which can hold 50 people in three sections, although one group or business can reserve the entire well for a game. The porch sections will accommodate about 100 and will feature their own bars, with the left-field video board providing shade for that area. The left-field porch will have televisions showing the game attached to the bottom of the video board.

Tickets for each section will be sold separately, although for the next few home series, the Cubs will allow anyone with a bleacher ticket to explore the porch for free. Separate tickets will be available for the well. Season tickets are not available in either section.

Prices will vary with the size of the group and the type of food and drink packages purchased: The well will range from $22 to $85 per person, and the porches will be $52 to $115. Tickets in these sections will be sold primarily as group options, but the Cubs could sell individual tickets if there is space.

Bleacher ticket prices range from $17 to $65, depending on the game.
The Budweiser patio will still accommodate 100 to 150 people under the right-field video board when those bleachers open. The right-field board will begin operation before the bleachers are scheduled to open in June, which is earlier than the previously announced timetable.

Although all seats in the left-field bleachers will be open for business tonight, work on the project is ongoing. Sections will be marked off to keep fans out, and work will be taking place underneath the bleachers during games.

All bleacher bathrooms that were operational last season will be open Monday, Kenney said.

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