January 20th, 2020

The History of Wrigley Field In Chicago, IL

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This entertaining review of the infamous Wrigley Field’s legendary history is presented by the Chicago sexual abuse attorneys of Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan.

Rich in legend and nostalgia, the superbly maintained Wrigley Field is known nationwide as a site for baseball in its most traditional form – a game played on natural grass, mostly during the day, within intimate surroundings that connect players and fans, and lastly, in a residential neighborhood rather than a sea of parking lots. But how did this cathedral of baseball begin? Let’s dive right in…

The Beginnings of Wrigley Field

Originally known as Weeghman Park, Wrigley Field was built on the grounds once occupied by a college for priests. It was the home of Chicago’s Federal League team which at the time was property of Mr. Charles Weeghman. Back then, the team was known as the Federals and the Whales.

The initial cost of building Wrigley fields precursor stadium was around a quarter of a million dollars, a fortune back in 1914. It boasted a seating capacity of 14,000 and had more than 4,000 yards of soil as well as four acres of beautiful and expansive bluegrass. Following the purchase of the team by William Wrigley, Jr. in 1920, the park famously became Wrigley Field in 1926.

Throughout much of its history, the stadium underwent renovations. The first occurred just days after the opening game in 1914 when the outfield walls were moved back to decrease the number of home runs. In ’28 an upper deck was added, and in ’38 came a bleacher section. The latter renovation also saw the addition of two features that would become extremely memorable for all who visited during the time: a hand-operated scoreboard and ivy on the outfield brick walls. In addition, the stadium’s Art Deco marquee which was initially green in color and then later painted red, was added in 1934.

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The neighborhood around the stadium (known as Wrigleyville) also became more developed, especially from the 1990s onwards. Although home to numerous bars and restaurants, the area was largely residential which added to the stadium’s appeal but also resulted in resistance to some proposed changes. For instance, in 1988, and only after threatening to move elsewhere, were the beloved Chicago Cubs allowed to add lights to Wrigley, thereby enabling night games.

In addition to the Cubs, Wrigley Field hosted other teams and events. From 1921 to 1970 it was home to the NFL Chicago Bears, despite posing unique problems to football players; of particular concern were the brick walls that were often just inches from the playing field. In 1922 Wrigley also began hosting concerts, and in the ensuing decades it occasionally was the site of college football and hockey games.

After the Cubs and Wrigley were purchased by the Ricketts family in 2009, a major renovation was proposed that drew strong objections from some residents. Ultimately, however, much of the plan was approved. Upgrades included a massive Jumbotron (a video screen was controversial and met with resistance by many fans who opposed putting video screens at Wrigley in deference to tradition) that was unveiled over the left-field bleachers in 2015. The area immediately around the stadium was also the site of numerous construction projects, including a hotel.

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