Cubs Win…well not yet but changes are coming.

Chicago Cubs

We can all agree the Chicago Cubs most likely will not contend for the World Series next year, adding to the 106 year drought. However, under the new ownership and leadership of Tom Ricketts the Cubs have begun making changes that will help their chances of getting back to a World Series.


26 Weeks…and Counting

After a turbulent period of battling with the City of Chicago, the adjacent rooftop owners, and the court system they have finally begun construction on an estimated $575 million dollar renovation this offseason.

The major issue arising with the renovation is that the cubs want to play next season in Wrigley Field. Unlike other renovations or new stadiums, the Cubs will not take a season off from playing in Wrigley Field. This puts a tremendous time restriction on when the project needs to be complete. The Cubs opening day next year is April 6th against the St. Louis Cardinals. That allows the project manager (PM) just 26 weeks to complete the project. At the time of this writing (Oct 6th) they will have exactly 6 months to finish the renovation.

The major renovations this winter will be extending the outfield walls, constructing new bleachers, and adding several digital screens including a Jumbotron in left field. Under perfect conditions this short of a deadline would be a challenge, but when you add in the harsh Chicago winters you introduce a whole new set of challenges.

With construction to begin next week on the bleachers, many individuals question if the renovations will be completed in time. And if they are, how much over budget will it go? Fortunately, for the taxpayers of Chicago this project is privately funded. However, many stadium construction and renovation projects are partially funded with public funds (i.e. Soldier Field renovation) and the tax payers are on the hook for budget overruns.

If you’re interested in seeing the full scale of renovations that will take place over the next few years take a look at the video below.


Project Management

This tight timeline would test the best of project managers, and any construction team. In order to stay within the short timeframe, construction started immediately following the Cubs season. Fortunately, for the construction company the Cubs did not make the playoffs this year. However, this offseason’s construction project is only the first in a planned series of projects. Next offseason the Cubs are planning on renovating the clubhouse and a few other areas of the ballpark. If this current construction project does not go as planned, or if the Cubs can make the playoffs next year, the future construction plans could be altered.

Come late March 2015 it will be interesting to see where the Wrigley Field renovation project stands. If the project is behind schedule will the PM crash the project and risk going over budget? Or will they risk having an uncompleted stadium for opening day? Each of these options has potential drawbacks, but these are the types of questions that PMs face on most projects they handle.

Hopefully, all goes well with the Wrigley Field construction project. However, with the pending winter weather, do you think the construction project will get done in time? Also, as a project manager in this situation how would you manage a team under this type of a timeline?$575m-renovation-set-to-begin/323525/

Cubs Threaten Move from Wrigley

As part of yet another drama-filled speech by Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, in a plea to the city of Chicago to build a 6,000 square foot video board on the left field wall, Ricketts proclaimed that the team would leave the location where the Cubs have been for the last 99 years.  While the threat seems real, the viability of the Cubs continuing to sell out while being in last or second to last in a potential future suburban location is slim to none.  The logistics behind the change in the target market are simply too critical to be ignored.  As a previous season ticket holder, I spent many of games with a fear of falling concrete or washing my hands in ice cold water on a just above freezing day in April and the appeal of a new stadium with glamorous amenities (as well as necessities like warm water and restocked toilet paper) would be a dream come true… but not in the suburbs. Having been to a Dodgers game recently in Los Angeles, after completion of the game, people simply returned to their cars and headed home. When I asked a fellow patron on where the nearest bar was located, they smiled and responded with “About 15 miles up the road.” However, being around Wrigley Field at the completion of a Cubs game (or sometimes before depending on the score) has a certain magic to it that cannot be replicated anywhere else. While Ricketts may appear to be negotiating at high stakes, the reality is that the Cubs would wither away without Wrigley but Wrigleyville would continue to thrive based on its shear appeal of location within the boundaries of the city and the proximity to other prestigious neighborhoods. In comparison, the move to the suburbs would cause the permanent fan base to drop immediately and the new fan base obtained would wear off after a few losing seasons. Having personally moved to the suburbs twelve years ago, there are friends that were next door neighbors that I have not seen since due to the inconvenience of traveling either to or from the city. But offer tickets to a Cubs game, and I’m on the blue line before you can tell me who the opponent is.

Besides the change in market demographics, the Cubs would need to work with local transportation as well as highway patrol to assure proper flow of traffic which again differs from the knowledge of traveling in the city. If the Kennedy is backed up, most people familiar with the area would be able to navigate through side streets even without GPS assistance but block an exit on the Elgin-O’Hare and you might as well shut down the entire highway.

So what are your thoughts on a potential Cubs move? Do you think Ricketts has thought out all of the risks associated with the move?