Opening Day at Wrigley Field is always a special experience for players, but the Chicago Cubs’ home opener this year also gave the team a chance to get their first taste of their new 30,000 square foot clubhouse.
The clubhouse, which was constructed in the offseason and is three times as large as the previous clubhouse, is already earning rave reviews from players and coaches.
“I think first impression we were all speechless,” Cubs ace Jake Arrieta said. “We saw the drawings and had the walkthrough, so we had an idea of what it looked like, but we were blown away. It was kind of overwhelming coming from where we did. This organization has come a long way, and it’s special to be a part of.”
The construction of a new clubhouse is merely one part of the team’s renovation of Wrigley Field, which has taken place in the past two offseasons. The new structure comes with all of the amenities of a modern baseball clubhouse, including a sauna, new workout facilities, batting cages, and one area that was a special request of Arrieta’s.
“My request was for air hockey, ping pong, and two Hot Shots,” he said. “We got that back there, but I think we’re going to have to limit the amount of time that guys are on it so they’re not tired before games.”
The Cubs’ regime has placed an emphasis on building a winning culture around the club to attract free agents, but manager Joe Maddon acknowledges that aesthetic touches like the new clubhouse will also play a big role in that:
While players may be a bit overwhelmed with the new facilities on their first full day at the ballpark this season, Anthony Rizzo knows that it’s not about what the team does off the field, but on it, that will define their season.
“It’s going to be nice in the dog days when we come in here and just relax,” he conceded. “Once you step on that line, it doesn’t matter. Even if you got ready in a parking lot, you have to be ready to play baseball.”
Even though Rizzo took a business-like approach to the new facilities, players like Addison Russell couldn’t help but drink in the spectacle.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Just to come here and just see all this new stuff is amazing. It’s a whole new (experience). The Cubs gave us this and they want us to have fun with it. They believe we deserve it, so we’re going to bask in it a little bit.”