Cubs’ Ricketts reveals Wrigley renovation might take extra year

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Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts revealed Wednesday that the Wrigley Field restoration project will take an extra year to complete.

The first of four scheduled offseason phases began in the fall of 2014 and the project was expected to be completed during the offseason between the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons.

On Wednesday, though, Ricketts said the organization is projecting the $375 million renovation to take longer than originally expected.

“There will be four more years,” Ricketts said Wednesday after speaking at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. “The way we project it now is four more years of construction.”

Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Ricketts, confirmed Wednesday evening that the project could very well bleed into a fifth offseason, one more than the original plan.

“That could still be the way it works out,” Culloton said of the original four-phase plan. “But it could take longer. Just take this winter for example, and we have found not only the problem with the weather but the water pipes that we had no control over. It could be four years, it could be five. It’s hard to say.”

The original plan for the construction was four offseason phases to be completed before the 2018 season, according to the Cubs’ Restore Wrigley website.

The first phase of construction, which began this offseason, involved structural steel and concrete work, bleacher restoration and new restrooms. The second phase of the renovation features a new home clubhouse, bullpens, and an outdoor plaza.

The third phase, to begin after the 2016 season, includes a new visitors’ clubhouse, new umpires’ room and renovation of luxury suites.

The final phase, originally scheduled to be completed in 2018, brings a renovated press box and a new hotel.

“A lot of that is subject to how the construction process goes,” Ricketts said. “Once again, with the time horizon we have, making sure we make long-term decisions and not rush the process.”

The first phase of the renovation has been beset by delays that will impact the Cubs’ Opening Day game against the Cardinals on April 5.

The Cubs announced in January that the bleachers would not be ready until May. Then, earlier this month, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney announced that the right-field bleachers wouldn’t be ready until June because of a cold-weather streak.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel denied a request by the team to work around the clock.

The Cubs are considering covering the incomplete bleachers with a tribute to late Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Ricketts said, but nothing has been finalized.

Ricketts said he doesn’t know how much of the new outfield signage will be ready for Opening Day, but the video board in left field is expected to be up and running. The video board in right field, he said, is delayed by the bleacher construction.

“Obviously it’s not our intent to inconvenience anyone,” Ricketts said. “As they know, I’m out in the bleachers all the time and I have a lot of friends out there. I’m disappointed that we can’t service them a little better. But, that said, once every 100 years someone fixes the park, and we want to make sure we do it right. At this point, that has to be our priority.”


Twitter: @davidjustCST

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