Thursday, February 11, 2010

Will Wrigley Field be windier this year?

As everyone knows, the Cubs have been in the process of removing the ugly concrete panels off the exterior of Wrigley Field over the past few weeks.

Goodbye, ugly concrete!!!

The panels were put up in the 1950's to block noise from inside the stadium getting to the exterior and to block noise from outside the stadium from getting in. The panels are most prominent on the Addison side of the park, but also exist on parts of the Sheffield and Waveland facing parts of the stadium.

It has been noted by many that the removal of these panels will really open up the ballpark, adding light in the afternoons to the rather dark and dreary right field grandstands.

But I've been wondering...could this affect the wind patterns at Wrigley?

As it is already, playing conditions at Wrigley Field are affected by wind more than just about any other ballpark. This is due to a number of conditions including proximity to the lake, the openness of the stadium, and the elevation of the ballpark.

Everything that was old is new again! A view of Wrigley pre-concrete slabs.

The concrete slabs, while they did have some slits in them, did block some of the wind at the ballpark.

It seems to me that removing the concrete could make the ballpark a little windier, especially when the wind is coming out of the south. With higher southerly winds, balls could be entering the left field bleachers with more frequency this coming season.

There were some discussions before the 2006 season about the affect the new bleachers would have on the wind patterns at Wrigley. My calculations reveal very little has the four years with the new bleachers, there has been only a decrease in home runs per game of .11 compared to the number hit between 2000 and 2005. Now neither of these are good sample sizes, and they don't really tell us much. The stats also don't take into account things like Sammy Sosa and needles.

Anyway...keep the wind in mind as 2010 plays out. It might be a bigger factor this season.