What’s Wrigley Field without any bleacher bums?
The Cubs don’t have to worry about that existential question anymore, now that the left- and center-field bleachers opened for Monday night’s game against the New York Mets, with fans streaming in for batting practice.
“I guess awkward would probably be the word,” leftfielder Chris Coghlan said. “It’s different any time you look out there and there’s not the same hometown crowd. As hectic as they are – and as fun as they are – it’s been kind of a bummer not to have them.
“But we had to go through that process to get more people, more seats, and everything there is now.”
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The 3,990-square-foot video board in left field made its debut on Opening Night. The Cubs have now put up a 2,250-square-foot video board in right field with the Budweiser script on top, changing or blocking the views from the Sheffield Avenue rooftop buildings.
“Every stage that we keep doing here at the stadium is exciting,” Coghlan said. “Guys are like: ‘Man, I heard the Jumbotron’s up.’ Everybody wants to go out and look at it. So we’re like little kids and fans in our own right.”
Joe Maddon, Wrigleyville’s new Renaissance man, pointed out something else at the beginning of the manager’s pregame media session inside the interview room/dungeon.
“How bout the ivy?” Maddon said. “The ivy’s turning green right now. I noticed that. I’m a bit of a gardener from back in the day, so that’s kind of exciting, too.”
The Cubs anticipate opening the right-field bleachers on June 11, when the Cincinnati Reds come to the North Side.
“It will be fun when there’s not boards and nets out in right field,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “But I really like the second scoreboard. I think it looks great and adds some symmetry to the ballpark.
“It’s a cost of doing business while we get this done – having empty bleachers – but it will be a lot more fun when the bleachers are full. Hopefully, it warms up and we get some good crowds out there.”
The Cubs hope the promises of the $600 million Wrigleyville development will give them a home-field advantage, from the new clubhouse to the upgraded medical/training facilities to the new revenue that can be poured back into the team to what’s supposed to be an electric atmosphere.
“I remember coming as a visiting player,” said Coghlan, who rolled through with the Florida/Miami Marlins. “In BP, they were just hammering me. And you’re like: Wow, this is crazy. Even in BP, they were already locked and loaded.
“Any time the crowd makes it difficult for the visiting team, it helps us. Same thing if we’re down by runs late and they give us energy. Sometimes we need that.
“Having more people – and the more rowdy they are – the better for us.”