Cubs pushing Wrigley Field into 21st century

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Cubs pushing Wrigley Field into 21st century

This will bother the traditionalists, but might appeal to anyone who cant put down their BlackBerry. The Cubs always seem to provoke strong reactions whenever they make changes to Wrigley Field.

Trying to steal some business away from the surrounding rooftops, the Cubs will build a patio deck in the right-field bleachers and install an LED board thats roughly 70-feet wide.

Team executives unveiled the plan on Saturday at the Cubs Convention and expect everything in place by Opening Day. The LED signage will show game information pitch count, player pictures and statistics but probably not instant replay.

President of business operations Crane Kenney said it would be challenging to play video there. Budweiser, the patios name sponsor, will be part of a rotating series of advertisements. These changes will not require approval from the city.

This isnt touching really a landmarked feature, Kenney said. The contours of the bleachers arent really impacted and it really doesnt touch the scoreboard or the ivy or any of the other aspects that are protected.

The Cubs intend to collapse six rows of bleachers into three and raise the seats, to improve the obstructed views into center field that slowed ticket sales there.

Marketing chief Wally Hayward said the area will be available for corporate outings and birthday parties and can accommodate up to 150 guests. The tickets will include food and drinks.

This reconfiguration wont change the distance to hit a home run and shouldnt impact wind patterns. These arent exactly the Green Monster seats dropped on top of Fenway Park. The bleachers will stay at the same height.

The Cubs will also experiment with dynamic pricing in the bleachers this season. This is a method used in the airline industry, where the earlier you buy your tickets, the better deal youre going to get. The team wont allow it to drop below the season-ticket price.

Chairman Tom Ricketts said the Cubs are not lobbying to add more night games to the schedule, though they would like to get some flexibility from the city that would allow them to play on Friday nights.

Approaching the ballparks 100th anniversary in 2014, the Cubs still havent secured the financing for their grand renovation plans. In the meantime, the Ricketts family recently purchased the McDonalds lot opposite the Wrigley Field marquee for a reported 20 million.

We just decided that property in Wrigleyville doesnt come up for sale that often, Ricketts said. I think one of the things the previous ownership (Tribune Co.) maybe missed on was making sure they bought some of the land around Wrigley to better control the environment.

The restaurant will remain there for the time being. Long term, Ricketts said he wont know what his familys developers will do with the land on Clark Street until the stadium renovation plans are finalized.

It could be everything from parking, shopping, dining, hotel use, Kenney said, all the things that we think (are probably) a gap in the Cubs ecosystem for new amenities.

Until Wrigley Field gets renovated, the Cubs do not expect to be awarded an All-Star Game. With a few modern touches, the place wont look the same in April. Team officials know Cubs fans wont be shy letting you know what they think.

Preview: Cubs look to sweep Reds on CSN

Preview: Cubs look to sweep Reds on CSN

The Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds today, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: John Lackey (1-2, 4.00 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 8.40 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

Cubs offense explodes with three home runs in victory over Reds

Cubs offense explodes with three home runs in victory over Reds

CINCINNATI — After a sputtering start, the Cubs' offense is finally rolling. And it's no surprise that they're breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that's just their style.

Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago's offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple.

"We've been making the most of them the last few games," Heyward said of the big hits.

The Cubs have won 20 of their last 24 games against the Reds, including 17 of 21 at Great American. The Cubs have homered in each of their last 14 games in Cincinnati, which suits their power-laden lineup.

"We've had some hiccups, but we've been picked up by our offense," said Arrieta, who gave up five runs in six innings. "As starting pitchers, we have to take advantage of our offense."

In the series opener, Rizzo's three-run homer tied it with two outs in the ninth and set up a 6-5 win in 11 innings. He connected in the first inning on Saturday against left-hander Cody Reed (1-1), who was moved into the Reds' injury-depleted rotation. Contreras hit his grand slam in the second, which was Reed's final inning.

"We score, what, nine runs and we lose? That's tough," Reed said.

Heyward's second homer in two days made it 11-5 in the sixth. The Cubs hit 42 homers against Cincinnati last season, the most by any Reds' opponent in their history. Chicago has six homers in the first two games of the series.

Arrieta was pitching on six days' rest. He needed 53 pitches to get through the first two innings. Joey Votto hit a three-run homer in the first - he drove in five runs overall - and Eugenio Suarez followed with a solo shot.

"I feel like I did my job after that first inning or so," said Arrieta, who struck out eight and didn't walk a batter. "After that, you want to protect the lead and get as deep into the game as you can."

Arrieta knocked in a run with his fourth career triple , a drive to right field that Scooter Gennett misplayed and missed as he tried to make a diving catch on the warning track.