New Cubs owners said to be considering Wrigley rehab, not reconstruction

Soon-to-be Chicago Cubs owners — as soon as the team has been put through a cleansing bankruptcy wash — the Ricketts family are likely looking at a scaled-down renovation of Wrigley Field, not a major reconstruction, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported last month, this would be a $250 million makeover, not the earlier $400 million-or-so plan, focused on the “triangle building” to be built in what’s now a parking lot adjacent to the third-base grandstand. According to Crain’s:

Other elements are likely to include upgraded skyboxes, a lounge area, widened concourses, better bathrooms and concessions, and some sort of fan-friendly space between the triangle building and the stadium, a source said….

The state envisioned many of the same improvements the Ricketts are mulling, but it considered an ambitious expansion of Wrigley’s modest skyboxes, which hang underneath the upper deck. Certain parts of the upper deck might have had to be “done over” to accommodate new skyboxes, [Illinois Sports Facilities Authority chair Jim] Thompson said.

But the trend among stadium owners is to eschew over-the-top luxury boxes, which have faded in popularity, in favor of private lounge areas dispersed throughout the ball park, coupled with expanded retail offerings, says Jason Thompson, a senior associate at facility planning firm Brailsford & Dunlavey in Washington, D.C.

If all this sounds familiar — a building next door to house shops and back-office operations, widened concourses, limited skyboxed — it’s probably because you’ve been to Fenway Park lately, as this is precisely the model the Boston Red Sox have used for their renovation of their 90-something-year-old ballpark. While it’s too soon to say if the Cubs’ new management will have as polished a touch as Janet Marie Smith did for the Sox (the Ricketts aren’t talking about specific renovation plans at all yet), this is certainly a good sign for fans of baseball’s two remaining classic ballparks.

As for who would pay for it, that’s a state secret as well, and Crain’s doesn’t deign to speculate. Has Carlos Zambrano’s fine fund hit a quarter-billion dollars yet?

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