Chicago Cubs to start baseball season, missing beloved bleachers
By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Rooting for a baseball team that has not won a World Series since 1908, the Chicago Cubs' famous bleacher bums have at least always had a chance to party in Wrigley Field's outfield stands.
But when the 2015 season opens on Sunday, the more than 5,000 general admission bleacher seats will not be there for fans who like to come early and engage in beer-fueled speculation over how the Cubs will lose this time.
Weather-related delays in rebuilding the bleachers, part of a planned $375 million renovation of the 101-year-old ballpark, mean its left-field benches will not be ready until mid-May and right-field seats until mid-June.
Many bleachers season ticket-holders say they will not go to a game until the outfield benches are back.
"I go by myself. When I get there, there will be people I like to spend time with," said Holly Swyers. "The fact that it won't be there in April - it makes it not feel right."
The Cubs have offered bleachers ticket-holders a chance to get a credit while the section is unavailable, or relocate. Cubs spokesman Julian Green, who called the bleacher reconstruction "a small inconvenience," could not say how many have taken other seats and how many will wait out the construction.
Wrigley's ivy-covered outfield walls, hand-operated scoreboard, bleachers and rooftop spectators across the streets are familiar images to audiences watching games televised from the stadium, a city historic landmark. The bleachers have been celebrated in books and the 1977 play "Bleacher Bums."
The Cubs say they need to modernize Wrigley to stay competitive, but some of the planned renovations have drawn criticism, and owners of rooftop bars have sued the team because they say a new video board will block their customers' view into the stadium. A federal judge sided with the Cubs on Thursday. Continued...