Crain’s Breakfast takes look behind the scenes of the renovations at Wrigley

Though the game itself was not starting until after 7 p.m., Wrigley Field was still hopping at 7:30 a.m. when the Crain’s breakfast crowd poured into the venue to listen to the insight from Ryne Sandburg and Cubs executive Crane Kenney.

It was great to see Crane again as we used to play golf together during our law school days. I was very interested to hear his insight into the renovation process and his remarks did not disappoint.

While most in the audience were interested to hear Ryne’s words, I always like hearing the business perspectives behind the sports success. Ryne spoke about how much more space and how many more staff people the Cubs have now since the Ricketts family took over the operations. The numbers are staggering.

Crane talked about how he evaluated other iconic sports and entertainment venues around the country and even overseas as he started the process of determining how to best make the renovations for Wrigley. Of particular interest was how the focus groups responded to alterations to various design elements. There was never any question that the marquee would not go away, the bleachers would remain and the scoreboard would stay in place. But Crane did not expect the big uproar over the the bathroom renovations, especially when there was a discussion about possibly removing the troughs from the men’s room.

The Ricketts family has taken over a lot of real estate in the area and has transformed the neighborhood into an entertainment complex that provides many opportunities for the fans. One of the biggest changes was the array of private clubs housed within Wrigley that can provide a variety of upscale options for those entertaining at the game.

Some beautiful, if pricy, options, give terrific sight lines into Wrigley while still allowing a lot of comfort, food and drink.

As I say every time I leave a sports venue, I am amazed at the enormous operational infrastructure that it takes to pull off a sporting event. Fans take so much for granted and gripe up a storm if something does not go smoothly, but there are SO MANY moving parts and the coordination that it takes to create the comfortable environment is impressive.

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