“There’s no place like home.” Judy Garland’s words from The Wizard of Oz have been the most spoken words since May 11 when the left and center field bleachers were finally opened. For many, especially bleacher season ticket holders, the May 11 night game was their Opening Night even though many had been able to purchase tickets to the actual Opening Night April 5. Even the Cubs front office showed up in force to welcome fans back to the bleachers and get their impressions.
As you may recall, the Cubs started tearing apart the bleachers the morning after the last night game last September. When it became obvious that the bleachers would not be ready for Opening Night in April, bleacher season ticket holders were given a few choices on what they would like to do concerning their accounts for 5 home games prior to May 11, when they promised the left and center bleachers would be open. While many requested refunds, some fans requested to be relocated for those games. The front office worked with at least one group of season ticket holders to be relocated together, and another group requested seats together just for Opening Night. While it wasn’t the ideal situation for the bleacher season ticket holders, the front office did what they could to work with everyone who requested help.
As with many things, Bleacher Opening Night was not without its glitches. The first glitch was trying to find a way to the main bleacher entrance, the only point of entry to the bleachers. Fans arriving early found the area blocked off with construction workers and machinery. Eventually, Cubs personnel arrived to explain how things would work. They were helpful and knowledgeable, and as it turned out when the ballpark opened, things seemed to run smoothly, though the elevator was not working, so many fans had to be taken up the ramps by wheelchair.
Jokes about not having enough bathrooms, similar to what happened Opening Night in April were unfounded. There were plenty of bathrooms for men and women, though concessions were sparse. A rumor of more vendors in the bleachers until things were fully operational has remained a rumor. However, after a few nights of not being able to get from the bleachers to the main part of the park, management got its scanning system running and by that Saturday fans could walk to the other main part of the park and find a better selection of food and drinks.
The two video boards were fully operational that night, though those in the left field bleachers cannot see the left field board at all, and at that time the right field board showed mostly lineups and ads. Since then the right field board has included replays, balls, strikes, outs and errors.
This is a work in progress. The elevator has worked only once, for a few hours, but otherwise has been out of order, making wheelchairs a necessity for many. It is strange that a brand new elevator is already broken, but the Cubs are working on that.
It also appears that the party wells in left field have undergone a little transformation. The floor seems to have been raised since the last home stand when it was determined that many people could not see over the wall making up part of the well.
This year the Cubs have contracted with a new security firm, Monterrey Security, to help with game day security. Personnel are well trained, friendly, and helpful and know what they are doing, unlike a couple of security firms used last year.
The right field bleachers are expected to open mid-June. If you’ve been to the ballpark, you will see the progress that has been made on the right field side. When that portion is finished, and with the new “party wells,” patios and other standing areas, the bleachers will hold about 500 more fans than last year.
All in all, the expansion and addition of video boards in left and right fields seems to be a great success, with many fans surprised at how much they actually like the new boards. Hopefully the Cubs will remember their promise to the fans and keep silly things like Kiss Cam off the boards. Time will tell, but things are looking good so far. ng good so far.