Franchise: Chicago Cubs
Year Opened: 1914
Games Attended: May 27 and May 29, 2016 v Philadelphia Phillies
Bleachers and Aisle 403, Row 1, Seat 110
Since my latest ballpark review, I’ve checked out four different parks. Wrigley is the most recent and I will work my way backwards to the park I saw right after PNC Park last September.
Wrigley Field is one of the two remaining Mecca’s on my journey, along with Fenway Park, so as you can imagine, this was a much anticipated trip. Despite the hype, Wrigley Field met expectations and then some.
1) Aesthetics- 21/25
The exterior was relatively nondescript, but at different points you could see into the field or the concourse, which is cool and builds excitement as you enter the gates. What gives the high rating though is the famous Wrigley sign outside the main gate at the home plate entrance. For my money, it’s the most iconic entrance in sports and it is so cool to see in person- especially at night when it’s lit up.
As much as I wish Cubs management didn’t add the new video board in 2015, there is no denying Wrigley Field is a spectacular sight, despite its age. The gorgeous green ivy is a twist unique only to Wrigley. The bullpens being in play is super cool. Flags fly on the foul pole with the names of retired Cubbies. Wrigley is home to the most iconic scoreboard in sports, located in dead center- and you can see flags flying to show the NL standings for each division. And despite my dislike of them, the new video boards are rather astounding. If the Cubs ever leave Wrigley, it needs to be preserved as an art piece because it’s so beautiful.
Some people might not think the Wrigley backdrop is anything special, but I think it is. I love that it’s in the middle of a neighborhood, so there’s a bunch of apartment buildings with the occasional corporate office high rise in the background. Even better are the rooftop apartments right across the street. However, the video boards do block this great backdrop a little bit now, so I dropped the score from a 9 to an 8.
2) Seats & View-13/20
Sight Lines- 6/10
My seats were good. In the bleachers, you have a generally good view of the game that lets you see all the angles, especially if you are sitting higher up. In Aisle 403, it was near the left field foul pole and I again had a great angle where I could pick up all vantage points. HOWEVER, Wrigley is famous for the obstructed seats and half the seats in the 200 level are affected by the overhang from the 400 level. So I can only give a mediocre rating here.
Because the park is so old, it was built in a time when seats were close to the field. The bleachers let you feel close to the outfielders. Meanwhile the 400 level upper deck is one of the closest in baseball. However, the 200 level does extend well underneath the 400 level, so those seats aren’t that close at all. But if you can get seats in the bleachers, 100 level, or 400 level on up, you’ll feel close to the action.
Despite the bleachers having no back and being sold out, I was comfortable. As for my seats in Aisle 403, I felt I had good leg room and not squeezed in too tight with my neighbors. HOWEVER, I know some seats, because it is an old park, are not angled towards the plate so you could go home with a sore neck. It didn’t affect me, but it might affect others so I lowered the score to accommodate.
3) Atmosphere- 14/15
Fan Participation- 5/5
I referred to Wrigley Field as a Mecca earlier in the post, and the fan participation definitely helps that claim. Without a doubt, Wrigley Field had the best fan participation of any stadium I have been too. We got rained on the first game and fans stayed. Not only that, they started cheering! The famous 7th inning stretch was sung in unison by all 38,000 fans. And everyone was focusing on the game- it was great.
Even in losing years the Cubs are typically a top 5 drawing team, so when they have the best record in MLB, of course attendance is going to be high.
Fan Knowledge- 4/5
Cubs fans are the real deal. While some are there just because it’s Wrigley, most live for the game of baseball and you can tell. It’s fun talking with them about the sport.
4) Attractions- 14/20
Museum & Team History- 7/10
There is no team museum. It’s an old, tiny park so it’s tough to knock them on it. However, there is plenty of history at the park. They honor players with their flags on the foul poles. There are four statures in total on the corners of the park outside the gates. On a brick wall as you access the bleachers, they have every logo in Cubs history painted on the wall which was really cool. Outside the park they have bricks paid for by fans, but on each portion of bricks are names of famous Cubs players. They also have plaques on the same brick wall of the logos, honoring former Cubs greats. So the team does all it can do to honor its past without a museum.
Things to See & Do- 7/10
Because Wrigley is so historic, there are things to see and do which are really cool, but it’s not a long list. There are the statues of Ernie Banks, Harry Caray, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams. You can check out the Bartman seat (Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113) which actually has a fantastic view. You can get down close to the bullpens. You can check out obstructed views just to see what it’s like. Other than that though, just take in the park as a whole from the ivory to rooftop seats.
5) Food & Drink- 6.5/10
Hot Dog- 4.5/5
Ah, the Chicago dog. A bunch of toppings I don’t put on a dog and it’s mustard only when I’m a ketchup guy. But these were great. Maybe it was the soft poppy seed bun, but man, these tasted good. And I loved having a tomato on the dog. Just make sure you bring cash- it’s cash only at the carts!
Best of the Rest- 2/5
The limited food carts looked good, but everything else, not so much. There are limited options- pretty much dogs, brats, hamburgers, and nachos. The generic hot dogs were cold and pre-made so I imagine the rest isn’t much better.
6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 4.5/5
For Wrigley Field, I thought they nailed the game entertainment. It’s a classic park and that’s why you’re there. So it’s a good thing they didn’t do the Kiss Cam or have a mascot race. But they did use the video board for some stuff, such as player fun facts and trivia questions. I think that type of game presentation is perfect for the iconic venue.
7) Cleanliness- 3.5/5
For a park that is 102 years old, it’s in real good condition. It wasn’t sparkling clean, but I didn’t notice anything dirty or smelly. The bathrooms use a trough which most people probably don’t like, but I think it’s cool they keep that throwback touch and the bathroom was clean, all things considered.
8) Local Scene & Location- 5/5
This gets a 5/5, without a doubt. Wrigleyville is the best game day spot for any of the 30 parks. I have only been to 15, but I can’t imagine the other 15 being better. There are bars up and down the surrounding streets to target before and after games. There are plenty of vendors to get your Cubs gear. People treat Cubs games like a party so the crowds will be there early and stay late, which is a good thing in this case. The local scene is an experience in itself and quintessential to your overall Wrigley experience. It’s also located in one of the nicer Chicago neighborhoods.
9) Access & Cost- 4/5
Accessing the stadium is super easy. The Red Line CTA drops off right outside the gates and there is a CTA bus that drops off as well. Driving to the stadium might be tough, so take the train. Or because it is in a neighborhood, ubering is an easy, cost-efficient choice.
As for pricing, Wrigley isn’t friendly on the wallet. I thought pricing could be worse because it’s Wrigley Field and the team is good so in context, you get okay value with their ticket pricing. Bleachers are $60-$70 which is too high in my estimation, but that’s the best way to watch a game there and families aren’t out there, so it’s not like a family of four will be spending $200+ on tickets alone. So in that sense, that price might be worth it. Elsewhere, you can get a good 400 level seat for around $50 which isn’t too bad.
10) Misc. +2
Scoreboard- As I said, it’s the best scoreboard in sports.
Day Games- The Cubs are the only team to still play Friday matinees, which I LOVE. Day baseball is better baseball.
11) Personal Option-5/5
As I mentioned earlier, Wrigley Field met expectations and then some. I knew the park is 102 years old, so I wasn’t expecting too much other than nostalgia. But it was clean, my seat views were good, and the crowd was electric. I kept looking around the park during the games and thinking “this place is so cool”. PNC was an amazing place, but Wrigley seriously gives it a run for its money- and not only because of its history. If Wrigley was, lets say, 50 years old it would still be near the top of my list. It is just a beautiful park and watching baseball there is a joy.
Overall Score- 96.5/115