New touches at Wrigley in time for season

New touches at Wrigley in time for season

CHICAGO -- There was the smell of fresh paint around Wrigley Field on Wednesday as crews put the finishing touches on the ballpark in preparation for Opening Day.

The new LED scoreboard in right field is installed and was being tested on the eve of the Cubs' opener Thursday against the Nationals. Three rows of seats have been removed in right field, and a new patio area has been created. It will hold 150 people, and groups can purchase the entire section or portions of the area for games.

The players also have a new area under the left field bleachers for soft toss and hitting off a batting tee before games. Before, there was only the batting cage under right field.

The Cubs' baseball operations staff returned from Mesa, Ariz., and Spring Training to their new office on Clark Street which has been converted from a parking garage and storage into a lofty modern and functional facility. It will hold 155 people; the previous space behind home plate inside Wrigley Field could barely accommodate 100 and staff often used the conference room for office space.

"This space has been energizing for everybody," said Crane Kenney, the Cubs president of baseball operations.

"The way our office is set up now, we have offices around the perimeter and cubicles in the middle, which will make it a close, collegial atmosphere," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We spend a lot of time together, and we need to enjoy that time. We have to figure out ways to add to the debate and discussion and I think having the office set up that way makes a big difference. Being in one long hallway without a central meeting place isn't that conducive to a good debate."

There are other benefits as well.

"It's nice -- no mice, so that's a good start," Hoyer said.