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Renovated Wrigley returns to World Series

Renovated Wrigley returns to World Series

Neon locker room: When the Cubs won the NL pennant last week, the team's newly refurbished digs were on display.

Neon locker room: When the Cubs won the NL pennant last week, the team's newly refurbished digs were on display.

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by ROB McMANAMY | October 28, 2016

Tonight, the formerly 'cursed' Chicago Cubs will host their first World Series home game in 71 years. And they will do so in the same historic home they have occupied for the last 102 years, Wrigley Field. 

But beneath the rich history and throwback signature scoreboard, the venerable edifice is already a much different ballpark from the one that hosted MLB's 1945 World Series, the first to take place in the aftermath of World War II. Today, Wrigley is smack dab in the middle of an ambitious, $575-million renovation the 1060 Project — that is as architecturally reverent as it is physically necessary. Of course, understandably, construction this October has been on hold, awaiting the end of the the Cubs' extended playoff run. The building team has been more than happy to wait.

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Even so, since BuiltWorlds also calls Chicago home, we thought we would take a moment here to provide an updated glimpse of the project that we last visited on Opening Day in April. At that time, we asked, "Could this finally be the year the team wins its first World Series in over a century?

Remarkably, the answer to that question remains open. But regardless of the outcome of these games, one thing is for sure: the ballpark's ongoing renovation already has yielded a sturdier, friendlier and infinitely more accommodating home for both the national pastime, as well as the sports' longest-suffering fans. Wrigley Field's modernization and restoration officially broke ground in October 2014, so the five-year project is roughly near its midpoint, eyeing completion in time for Opening Day 2020.

  • Below left, Wrigley Field fans celebrated last week; At right, fans gathered for Game 1 in 1945.

Ironically, the better the baseball team plays on the field, the longer the building team has to wait to take charge of the site. This October already marks the second straight MLB postseason in which the Cubs and their field have both been busy late into the fall. Once the postseason ends  with or without a wild victory parade in downtown Chicago — the 1060 Project team will plunge headlong into its third intense, abbreviated construction season, which lasts only until Opening Day next April.

The 1060 Project... (runs) the whole gamut of construction, from deep foundation to steel augmentation, to new construction, to restoring old parts of the ballpark to their former glory
— Kevin Heatter, Project Director, Pepper Construction

Specifically, that hard-hatted squad consists of self-performing contractor Pepper Construction, architect VOA Associates, and owner's rep ICON Venue Group. So far, Wrigley's revamped bleachers, glitzy new locker rooms, and iconic, improved signage have grabbed most of the media attention, but they pale in comparison to the extensive, less visible work that Pepper already has completed involving demolition, concrete pours, drywall, steel replacement and foundation reconstruction (see below). To the fan, Wrigley Field's rebirth may appear to be a loving restoration of a beloved landmark. But behind the scenes, the building team knows just how much that involves.

  • Below, watch Pepper Construction's video snapshot of the historic project...
Pepper's Kevin Heatter discusses the enormous challenges inherent in restoring an iconic, national landmark.

Pepper's Kevin Heatter discusses the enormous challenges inherent in restoring an iconic, national landmark.

  • Project gallery: Above, click to see some of the work accomplished last spring. Bleachers were replaced. Foundations were excavated for driving new steel piles, and more...
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