In 2014, the Cubs announced a multi-phase plan to update and rehabilitate Wrigley Field. Improvements have been made to the outfield bleachers and the Cubs’ home clubhouse, but lots of work remains in and out of the ballpark.
An enthralling World Series victory last November is pushing further development into action, and one of these constructions is an open-air plaza outside the park that will be home to office and retail space. Called The Park at Wrigley, this new addition to the sports complex officially opened on April 10, the same night as the Cubs’ first home game of the season.
From the time of the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. until the last innings of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, mobs of people bustled around the new plaza despite windy and rainy conditions.
A new Starbucks with an interactive coffee bar was packed with fans decked out in Cubs gear. In addition to its core menu, the new Starbucks will take influence from the Seattle Starbucks Reserve Roastery with an immersive coffee bar where baristas bring the craft of coffee to life through various brewing techniques.
Fans walked their dogs, bought peanuts and energy drinks and discussed their favorite players. Police officers directed traffic, as many of the park’s surrounding streets were closed. A father and son even played catch in the road, as passersby walked through the new, two-story Cubs Store, which sells jerseys, T-shirts, hats and authentic merchandise used by former and current players. A green lawn with colorful landscaping and a white picket fence sits next to these shops, facing a large movie screen on the side of the building.
Over the summer, the Music Box Theatre will be showing free movies here, including a screening of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” on June 14. Other activities include music programs hosted on Tuesdays by the Old Town School of Folk Music and farmers markets hosted on Thursdays by Green City Market.
In the coming months, additional attractions are supposed to open, including a Jostens that will sell Cubs-related jewelry, a Motorola trophy room with public visitation hours, and a two-story tavern-style restaurant with outdoor seating. Next year, Hotel Zachary will be opening across the street, featuring an array of local Chicago restaurants.
Cubs game days have always created a friendly and energized environment in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, with fans congregating on the streets, in bars and restaurants and on nearby rooftops to cheer on their team.
The opening of The Park seems to promise an even more exciting atmosphere, but one that at times may only exist for a lucky few. Access to the lawn and balcony is restricted to ticket holders on game days, and the park is scheduled to open two hours before the first pitch. Those without game tickets can access the stores of The Park, and even watch the game on the movie screen located in the Plaza, but they will not be allowed access to the lawn. The Park creates a fun, less-restricted space for community events.
Wrigleyville won’t be limited to the famous Wrigley Field and its Cubs anymore; it will soon be a place full of Chicago-inspired attractions, drawing in locals and tourists alike.
More information on The Park at Wrigley, including a calendar of upcoming events, can be found on their website, www.parkatwrigley.com.