Friday, October 29, 2010

Cubs give hints to potential renovation plans

A few days ago I received an e-mail from the Chicago Cubs...a survey asking for opinions about different plans that Cubs are considering as part of the the mythical renovation of Wrigley Field that we all have been waiting for for about 50 years.

It was very interesting to read through this survey because it actually gives the fans a first glance at some of the stuff the team actually thinking about doing for the renovation.

I'm not going to go into detail about every question, but I'll give you a general idea of what they were asking and I'll show some pictures that they posted along with these questions.

First, some non-stadium specific things..

They asked if it was desired for the Cubs to hold night games on Friday and Saturday.  Also, they wanted to know if fans would use access, via mobile devices, to in-game replays, stats and such while they were at the ballpark. They also asked if we would like the option of paying for concessions and souvenirs via mobile devices.

Then to the ballpark...a lot was asked about the quality and quantity of the concessions.  They also wanted to know if the bathrooms were ok (they seem very pre-occupied with this) and if the ushers/fan ambassadors were good.

Another set of questions came up about seat size and leg room.  These are two things I desperately wish they could do something about...but it's likely that nothing can be done without significant cost and reduction in capacity.  

The question of whether or not we wanted a video board was asked.  For me, this is a no brainer (get one and put it on top of the Horseshoe Casino building on Waveland).  A couple questions were asked about corporate sponsorship of parts of the ballpark.  I'm fine with this...but they curiously didn't ask if we would be ok with them selling the naming rights of the ballpark in general.

Now for some pictures...

The Cubs basically asked about what we thought of putting different fan amenities around different parts of the park.

First, the dream of all dreams...the Triangle Building. 
An improved Wrigley Field may also include access to a hospitality club lounge in an adjacent new building down the left field line. The hospitality lounge would not have views of the field but would be connected to Wrigley Field via a foot bridge. (snip)...the Membership Club would not be associated with a specific seating section. Ticket holders in any location could purchase a membership, which could provide access to the club for the member and up to three guests. The club could offer pre-game dining, upscale food and beverage offerings, HD Televisions with surround sound, private restrooms and access to a business centre with Wi-Fi internet service. There could be a green outdoor terrace with views of the skyline including food stations, themed outdoor bars, verandas and areas that can be reserved for business functions as well as parties. The club could be open to the public on non-gamedays.

Next is something that the Ricketts family mentioned briefly last year.  The patio area by the batting cages was supposed to be the beginning of this, but they are looking to create a right field Entertainment Area which can be rented out for 100 or so people.  (As you can tell, they've used pictures for similar areas in other ballparks for this.)
An improved Wrigley Field could include a single game group entertainment area located on the field level immediately beyond the outfield fence and along the first base line. This area could accommodate approximately 100 guests and could include a private bar, a full buffet and HD flat screen televisions. Because it could be located at the current right field gate, the club would not cause a change to the dimensions of the playing field or the ivy covered walls. This area could be available for rental on a game-by-game basis, with prices inclusive of 100 game tickets, a pre-game buffet and unlimited beverages.

Another thing they mentioned was some bleacher party areas...there are no pictures of what they are thinking of here...but, again, here is the description:
An improved Wrigley Field could include six to eight Bleacher Group Party Areas located immediately above the right and left field bleacher seats. Each Party Area could be an indoor/outdoor structure with private access to the area directly in front of the Party Area and reserved seating in the top three rows of the bleachers immediately in front of each area. The Party Areas could be enclosed on cold or hot days to create a climate controlled lounge area or opened up to become an indoor/outdoor space. Party Area patrons could have general access to the bleachers. The areas could accommodate approximately 16 people, with amenities including preferred parking, state-of-the-art televisions, upscale couches and seating, access to a private bathroom, in-suite waitress service and more. The Group Party Area could be available for rental on a game-by-game basis with prices inclusive of 16 game tickets or on a seasonal basis.

They mentioned something called the Marquee Club which would be located in the lower deck in the back of the grandstand behind home plate.  Their description:
Most new stadiums offer multiple lounge and climate controlled spaces throughout their ballpark. An improved Wrigley Field could include Marquee Club Seats. The Marquee Club Seats might be located at the top of the lower deck in the three sections immediately behind home plate. The seats could be wider and offer more leg room as compared to the existing seats. Marquee Club patrons could have exclusive access to a new, private lounge area that could be devoted to the top of the lower level behind home plate.

In order to not miss the game, the lounge could offer views of the playing field and large HD-TV screens. The club would include upscale food and premium beverage offerings as well as an extensive desert bar and direct access to private washroom facilities. The club could include stand up tables as well as padded benches. Fans could also have the ability to make an advanced purchase of premium parking spaces for the day of the game. Child-friendly options could include a sweet stand, popcorn stand, Kids Cart with school-lunch favorites and smaller-portion items, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk and small hot dogs. As a Marquee Club seat holder, you could have the opportunity to purchase tickets to concerts and other stadium events (subject to availability). Unlike the Home Plate Lounge, The Marquee Club price would not include food and beverage within the price of the ticket.

And finally, something that I have been saying they should do for a while...the additions of more patios in the upperdeck like the one that already exists under the press-box.  There's only one lame picture of this, but they did mention something about being able to view the field from said patios.  They might be considering doing something similar to what they did in Kansas City (the second picture I pulled up to demonstrate and it not from the Cubs).

A Wrigley Field capital improvement could include the creation of new spaces to service the upper deck seats. The spaces could provide additional restroom space and include outdoor spaces similar to the Smirnoff Patio with points of sale, seating and views of downtown Chicago.

Kauffman Stadium has concession patios in the upper deck.
There are two patios, both face the field.
At the end of the survey, they asked for comments...this is what I said:

For me, the most important thing is that the renovations deal with the comfort of the fan.  Wrigley was designed to hold only 25,000 people comfortably even though the capacity is 41,000.  All the new ballparks are designed to hold their capacity in comfort.  More leg room, wider aisles, etc.  I'm not sure how you do this without affecting the capacity and without demolishing and rebuilding significant parts of the stadium, but as a season ticket holder, I typically enjoy going to the less attended games because I don't feel like a sardine.  And I'm not that large of a person.

My suggestion also would be to start negotiations with the owners of the Horseshoe casino building on Waveland to put up a video board off of that rooftop.

Please work with the neighborhood on allowing for night games on Friday nights...not for the fans, but for the players coming off of road trips to play a day game at Wrigley.

The only other focus should be on player's amenities to ensure these guys can play at the best level.  Wrigley is a disadvantage to the team as much as people want to say differently.

There are a number of good ideas here.  Now let's see if they can follow through on any of this.  So what do you all think?  Do you like this glimpse of what the Cubs are thinking about with this renovation?