- Jon Greenberg, Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Bring on the bums, tourists and bachelor parties, because the Wrigley Field bleachers are finally coming back.
In a Tuesday news release, the Chicago Cubs confirmed two sections of the Wrigley Field bleachers will open for business May 11, with the other opening a month later.
The bleachers, the first phase of an estimated $375 million, five-year renovation of Wrigley Field, were initially scheduled to open in time for the season, but the Cubs formally announced the delays at January’s Cubs Convention.
The Cubs also announced that the right-field bleachers will be ready by June 11.
Aside from the center-field seating section, the rest of the bleacher structure was totally rebuilt and will contain additional concession space, kitchens and more room to mill around during the game. Eventually the bullpens will be located underneath the bleachers.
The Cubs added party sections in left and right field, along with the return of the Budweiser Patio, which was already in right field before the renovations. A new concession area called “Platform 14” located behind the old scoreboard will open in early July.
They are also adding a “designated standing room” section in the first two rows of left field, which will be sold in group packages.
“There’s no experience quite like sitting in the Budweiser Bleachers for a Cubs game,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney says in the release. “With new group spaces, wider concourses and expanded concession service, we are excited to open the Budweiser Bleachers for our next homestand and celebrate the relaunch of one of the most popular seats in sports with our legacy partner, Anheuser-Busch.”
Kenney left out the giant neon script Budweiser sign that is sitting atop the new right-field video board.
That new 2,250-square-foot video board is almost ready to debut in right field. A 3,990-square-foot board in left field has been up since Opening Day and has received positive reviews inside the stadium.
The Cubs played 14 home games without bleachers, creating an odd tableau for hitters and TV viewers. The right-field bleachers will be empty for an additional 13 home games.
According to the 2015 Major League Baseball Fan Cost Index, the average bleacher season ticket was priced at $37.86 before the season. If you factor out the 14 missed games (one was canceled and will be rescheduled), the average price of a bleacher seat climbs to $40.17. The majority of the missed games were for bronze and gold games, the two cheapest-priced categories.
Before the season, the Cubs didn’t sell single-game bleacher tickets, and they offered refunds, credits or temporary seats in the main seating bowl for bleacher season-ticket holders. The Cubs estimated there are about 1,000 bleacher season-ticket holders, making up around 2,000 tickets.