Posts Tagged ‘Wrigley Field’

A Pre-Renovation Wrigley Field Walk Around

October 4th, 2014

Knowing that the Chicago Cubs are embarking on  a $575 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field, I visited the ballpark on September 19, 2014, for a day game against the Dodgers. My purpose was to photograph and video Wrigley Field as it exists prior to its renovation.

Wrigley Field Left and Center Field September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field Left and Center Field September 19, 2014

Although perhaps not quite as drastic as the Yankees 1970s renovation of their former ballpark, the Cubs plans for Wrigley Field certainly will alter forever the appearance of the ballpark, both inside and out. In the years to come, fans very well may preface discussion about their visits to that ballpark in terms of old Wrigley and new Wrigley, just as fans used to talk about old Yankee Stadium  – pre 1970s renovation – and new Yankee Stadium – post 1970s renovation (not to be confused with the team’s new, current Yankee Stadium).

Wrigley Field  From Left Field Grandstand September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field From Left Field Grandstand September 19, 2014

Say what you will about the Cub’s decision to renovate the ballpark, at least they are keeping the ballpark where it is, with the same field and historic facade. It has been my opinion that the Yankees should have taken the same approach rather than demolish their historic ballpark and build a new one across the street.

Panoramic Photo Wrigley Field September 19, 2014

Panoramic Photo Wrigley Field September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field’s renovation will take several years, conducted mostly during the off season. Work already has begun on the bleachers to the left and right of the historic scoreboard. Those bleachers will be demolished and the seating capacity extended out over Waveland Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. Other planned renovation includes demolition and replacement of the wood roof that covers the grandstand from the left field corner around to the right field corner, demolition and replacement of the lower seating bowl, including the dugouts, demolition and expansion of the concourse behind the lower seating bowl, additional concessions for the upper deck, an upper deck patio above Seminary Avenue, and the construction of shops, a parking garage, and a hotel at Waveland Avenue, Seminary Avenue, and Clark Street.

For posterity, I have shared here six videos of how those areas looked (as well as the rest of the stadium) before the renovation.

The tour starts with a ride north on the “L” red line, stopping at Addison Street.

This next video is a walk around the outside of Wrigley Field, starting at the intersection of Addison Street and Clark Street, and continuing to Waveland Avenue, Sheffield Avenue, and back to Addison Street. The Cubs renovation plans include construction of an office building, hotel, and plaza which will straddle both sides Clark Street along the left field foul line, and expanded bleacher seating that will overhang Waveland Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. With these renovations, the cityscape  of the area surrounding Wrigley Field will be forever altered.

The next video is a walk through of the concourse area behind the lower seating bowl. The Cubs plan to bring this area into the 21st century by expanding the concourse area and revamping the concessions options and restroom areas. As it currently exists, this walk through the concourse is a charming, yet cramped experience. Most patrons who frequent the ballpark undoubtedly will appreciate the upgrades. Some will miss the charm, but few will miss the cramped quarters.

The next video is a walk around the lower seating bowl. With changes to the signage along the outfield walls, the addition of a new scoreboard, and replacement of the lower bowl seats and concrete risers, this view of Wrigley Field also will be forever altered.

The next video (which clocks in at about 20 minutes) is a walk along the ramps, walkways, and concourse areas of the upper deck, starting at the up ramp near the Waveland Avenue entrance and continuing up through the backside of the ballpark to the upper levels. How much of this view changes depends on structural work planned for replacing the wooden roof and the addition and expansion of concession areas on the upper concourse.

The final video is a view of Wrigley Field from the current roof top deck. Renovation of Wrigley Field includes an expansion of this area and the addition of other roof top concessions and eating areas.

Although with its renovation Wrigley Field is will lose some of its century-old charm, hopefully the renovation of Wrigley Field will help insure the ballpark’s existence for at least another 100 years. Fans in Boston and Chicago are fortunate that their ballparks remain a baseball destination where the game is still played. Most Yankee fans I have talked to since the demolition of their historic ballpark in 2010 wish the same could be said for Yankee Stadium. It is better that Wrigley Field be a renovated ballpark, as opposed to just another lost ballpark.

And for the record, the Dodgers defeated the Cubs 14-5, with Clayton Kershaw getting the win and the Dodgers clinching a 2014 playoff spot.

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Chicago’s West Side Grounds – Where The Cubs Last Won the World Series

March 20th, 2013

West Side Grounds (also called West Side Park) at the intersection of S Wolcott Avenue and W Polk Street was the home of the Chicago Cubs from 1893 until 1915. It was the second ballpark in Chicago known by that name, the first being located a mile to the northeast at the intersection of South Loomis and West Harrison Streets, which was home to the Cubs from 1885 until 1891. From  1891-1893, the Cubs played at South Side Park II, which was located at the southeast corner of W 35th Street and S Wentworth Avenue and is now consumed by Interstate 94 just to the east of Cellular One Field.

West Side Grounds Postcard (Facing Toward Polk Street and Old Cook County Hospital Behind Grandstand)

While resident at the second West Side Park, the Cubs won four National League pennants from 1906 to 1910 and two World Series championships in 1907 and 1908. The 1906 World Series, which the Cubs lost to the cross-town Chicago White Sox, was the only match up in series history between those two clubs. In the time since the Cubs abandoned West Side Grounds for the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, the team has never won a world series.

West Side Grounds (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.) Facing Toward Taylor Street

The former site of West Side Grounds is now the University of Illinois Medical Center.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Looking Toward Southeast Corner of Wolcott Avenue and Polk

The grandstand from home plate to left field ran parallel to S Polk Street, although it did not abut the road. Rather, it was set back from S Polk Street behind row houses that lined the street.

Former Site of West Side Grounds at Wolcott Avenue - Former Location of First Base Grandstand

The first base grandstand ran parallel to  W Wolcott Street. At the time of West Side Ground, Wolcott street was known as Lincoln Street. It was renamed in 1939 in honor of Dr. Alexander Wolcott, Jr., who was the first physician in Chicago.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Now Occupied By the University of Illinois Medical Center

Although nothing of West Side Grounds remains on site, much of the outfield area remains a park in the middle of the University’s medical complex.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Former Location of Center Field Looking Toward Home Plate

The park can be accessed from an entrance near the corner of W Taylor Street and S Wood Street behind the University’s Biologic Resources Laboratory.

Former Site of West Side Grounds Standing in Former Location of Left Field Looking Toward Second Base

The infield and much of the grandstand area are now consumed by the Illinois College of Medicine.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Right Field

Second base was once located in the northwest corner of the medical center park on what is now a concrete patio.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing in Approximate Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate Somewhere Through That Door

Center field was once located in the southeast corner of the medical center park. The building housing the Medical Center Administration (the old Nurses’ Home) resides in what was once deep center field.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Approximate Location of Second Base Lookiing Out Toward Center Field

The right field corner was once located behind the building at 835 South Wolcott, which houses the university health services and other departments.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing in Right/Center Field Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field Pavilion

A plaque commemorating the West End Grounds was placed in front of the  University of Illinois Chicago Neuro Psychiatric Institute at 912 S Wood St.

West Side Grounds Plaque (Illinois State Historical Society - www.historyillinois.org)

The plaque dedication in 2009 was attended by none other than Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

Former Site of West Side Grounds Looking South Down Wood Street Toward Location of Historical Plaque

West Side Grounds is one of the original lost ballparks, having been home to the Cubs almost 100 years ago. It’s location is less than file miles northwest of U.S. Cellular Field (old Comiskey Park), home of the Chicago White Sox and is certainly worth a visit, especially for Cubs fans wondering where it was that their team last won the World Series.

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