Cubs say Wrigley Field will be ready and safe for Opening Day

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In this Monday, March 2, 2015 file photo, construction of the left field bleachers and new video board continues while the Chicago Cubs’ press forward on renovations to Wrigley Field as opening day approaches in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

The Cubs offered the final preseason update on Wrigley Field’s renovation project Tuesday, shooting down a number of rumors that had surfaced about its progress.

Julian Green, the Cubs’ vice president of communications, said Wrigley Field will be ready to go on Sunday for Opening Day against the Cardinals. Gates will open early — at 4:35 p.m. – for a pregame concert by Fall Out Boy.

Additionally, Green said, Major League Baseball has not intervened in the project. The league has “been supportive since the project got underway.” Green also dismissed rumors that the Cubs ever considered playing at U.S. Cellular Field.

He called rumors that the grandstand and upper deck were not safe false and “reckless.”

“There’s no higher priority than to ensure our fans enjoy baseball in the safest environment possible,” Green said.

Carl Rice, the Cubs vice president of ballpark operations, said the outfield bleachers remain on track to open during the first two months of the season.

The left- and center-field bleachers will be open Monday, May 11, when the Cubs host the Mets. The right-field bleachers will be ready in mid-June. The Cubs have 10 home games in June, and none before Thursday, June 11.

The left-field video board will be ready on Opening Day, but the right-field video board will be ready “by the All-Star break,” Rice said. A Budwesier sign that is intended to go on top of the right-field video board will be in a temporary location until then.

The outfield walls are up and ready for Sunday with ivy attached, Rice said, and he expects the ivy to be in full bloom by mid-summer.

The stadium will be short one men’s and two women’s restrooms, and Rice said “a temporary lavatory” will be in place. There will also be one fewer concession area in left field that will be supplemented elsewhere.

“Our goal is to ensure the ongoing construction does not lessen the fan experience or impact the game on the field,” Rice said. “We’ll constantly monitor the noise and construction activity and make adjustments as we go. The key objective is getting this done right and delivering the ultimate fan experience.”

The Cubs are encouraging fans to use public transportation to come and go from the stadium because construction and street closures will limit traffic flow around Wrigley. More information on transportation and parking can be found here.

All of the stadium’s gates will be available on Opening Day and throughout the season. The bleacher gate will open when construction concludes in that area.

The Ernie Banks and Ron Santo statues will be back in place on Opening Day, but the Harry Caray statue will not return for the 2015 season because construction is ongoing at that part of the stadium.

Rice said the schedule for the overall project may need adjusting as the Cubs determine what can be accomplished during the season. He said chairman Tom Ricketts has spent $50 million more than originally planned on the project, and the renovation could take up to five years instead of four.

Ricketts announced the construction would take four more years after a City Club of Chicago luncheon last week.

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