Has "next year" arrived?
That's the big question on Cubs fans' minds as Theo Epstein takes the helm with a new leadership team, new players and all eyes on the ultimate World Series prize.
"To me, baseball is best of all when you win," Epstein said when the Cubs introduced him in October. "And that is ultimately why I'm here."
That's why 10-year-old Trey Barnett got in line for a ticket for the 1:20 p.m. Cubs-Nationals game. "I think it's awesome," Barnett said. "It will be the best time of my life."
"The curse will be broken!" said Josh Jones.
But there's more to think about than the World Series ahead of Thursday's Opening Day festivities at Wrigley Field. On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters the city's talks with the Cubs about a Wrigley renovation have reached "the final stages."
And last fall, the Ricketts family bought up the McDonald's property and parking lot across the street from Wrigley Field for $20 million. It's still unclear what the family wants to do with the land, but rumor has it a hotel-entertainment venue combo might be under consideration to draw fans to games.
Fans walking into the stands Thursday will notice a few changes there, as well. The Budweiser Patio, located in the right field section of the Budweiser Bleachers, will be unveiled.
The patio is meant to accommodate groups of 50, 100 or 150 and includes an all-inclusive food and beverage package and 75-foot Panasonic LED board displaying game information, such as pitch count and player stats.
The Audi Legends Suite, located on the first-base side, is also new and is available for game-day rental for up to 14 people, the Cubs said. Suite rentals include a visit and autographed baseball from a former Cubs player, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of Wrigley Field and an all-inclusive menu.
“The Cubs are committed to enhancing Wrigley Field and providing a memorable experience for our fans,” said spokesman Wally Hayward in a statement.
The Cubs have new stadium food this year too. Menu items include chips and queso from Qdoba Mexican Grill, spicy Cholula Hot Sauce Tator Tots and something called Meatball Mania, a row of meatballs in three flavors.
The best change of all? For some, the weather. The Cubs's Opening Day might get mild temperatures and clear skies.
"It's the first time we've seen ivy on opening day," Hayward said.