Vinnell built a six-acre casting yard. The concrete casting beds were 3 inches thick, 50 feet wide and between 200 and 400 feet long. Vinnell cast the 22-foot-long seat units in steel side forms and cured them with steam. All other concrete members were cast in wood forms and covered with curing compound.
There were more than 25,000 separate pieces, all cast before the construction began. Each piece of concrete was marked and catalogued so the erection crew could find it. Yount also utilized fiberglass molds instead of steel. The pieces were cast on the property and a special $150,000 one-time use crane was assembled at the stadium site to move the pieces in place.
“There is a lot more strength in this stadium than there is in highway bridges,” Yount said. “On this structure, we used almost seven sacks of cement a yard. On freeway bridges, they use five. For paving, they use four or less. So every yard of concrete poured at the stadium cost O’Malley about $1.50 extra just in cement alone. There are about 45,000 yards in the whole stadium.”
As the stadium began to take shape, O’Malley announced the stadium would have 52,000 seats and could be expanded in stages to boost the capacity to 67,000 and eventually 80,000. O’Malley made it clear expansion might not be necessary.
“It naturally depends on business,” he said. “Remember, when you expand your seating, you must expand your paved parking area, too. Before we take on these expenses, we must be assured there is sufficient demand.” He later settled on a 56,000-seat capacity.
And O’Malley gained his first tenant during construction when the expansion Los Angeles Angels joined the American League in 1961. The Angels, owned by motion picture star and radio executive Gene Autry, would play their inaugural season at Wrigley Field and move into the new ballpark in 1962.
On Nov. 22, 1961, the first of 47,964 seats were fixed into place by representatives of the American Seating Company of Grand Rapids, MI. The amount was one of the largest single stadium installations in history. If placed side by side, the seats would form a row nearly 33 miles long. The seats required 350,000 feet of board lumber, 546 tons of cast iron and 3 tons of aluminum nuts and bolts.
Another challenge arrived in the form of torrential rains that hit Southern California early in 1962 and threatened the project’s target date for Opening Day. The field was graded and ready for sod when the first rains came in February. It took 10 days to dry out and reconditioning for the field to be graded again and 150 square feet of sod was installed before another five-day series of storms washed away the top soil, causing an estimated $500,000 in damages.Back to top