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Visiting Wrigley
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/15/2006 11:33:00 AM
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A couple pals and I go on baseball trips every so often and this weekend we made an impromptu visit to Wrigley Field.

I had never been to Wrigley, and it was fun to finally experience it. Great park, right up there with Fenway as the top two baseball stadiums. I'd say Fenway 1A, Wrigley 1B.

What struck me was the absolute lack of signage. Save for a billboard behind the plate, there were no advertising signs. Maybe that explains why tickets seemed a little pricey ($30 for bleacher seats). The Cubs also price tickets according to the opponent, meaning certain dates, like Mother's Day, cost more than others. But there were plenty of scalpers outside, and if you wait until just before gametime, they unload their tickets on the cheap.

Beers were reasonable. I paid $5.50 for something called Old Style. Never swilled that beer before. It's your basic cheap, watery, ballpark beer. The good thing was beers were poured right from the can or bottle, which prevents the ballpark from watering down the suds when served through a tap (as was alleged at Dodger Stadium a few years back). The first hot dog I tasted was a $3 dog from a vendor. It was easily filed under you-get-what-you-pay-for. The other dog was a $5.25 grilled hot dog. Definitely worth the price (relatively speaking).

The old-time scoreboard added to the experience, but I didn't realize how much I enjoy those Diamond-vision scoreboards in the modern parks. The Wrigley scoreboard offers only runs, hits, outs and out-of-town scores (and doesn't have enough space for all of the scores). No player stats, no lineups, etc. (although the thin video boards showed players' batting averages). The other thing that disappointed was that you can't see the field from the lower-level concourse. So if you go for a dog, you can't keep track of the game. But the legendary ivy and brick and the overall park feel made up for the few drawbacks. Plus, the park was kept up very nicely. When I visited the old Tiger Stadium about 10 years ago, it looked its age and then some. Wrigley felt as fresh and beautiful as any of the new throwback parks.

Good people, too. Alex the Bouncer, who did more drinking than bouncing at some bar in Wrigleyville, recommended Leona's for classic Chicago-style pizza. He was right, it was delicious.

All in all, a fantastic weekend in Chicago.


Wrigley field is over-hyped. Take a look at what they are doing down on the south side of Chicago for your next ball park. Not only do they offer better food, a bar in the stadium (comes in handy on rainy days), numerous renovations, and a better view, it offers a better team and a buzzing crowd that is far more baseball savvy than those that head to the Cubs game because they heard Wrigley field is the place to see. Granted the surrounding neighborhood is better for pre and post game activities in Wrigleyville, but the better game experience, ball park, ball park food, and team is the Chicago White Sox.
Posted by mako at 5/15/2006 7:02:00 PM
I can really tell that you don't appreciate the history of the game. Wrigley is one the most historic parks ever. Appreciate it for what it is, not for what it's not.
Posted by scottnate9 at 5/16/2006 9:13:00 AM
Actually, I've visited the New Comiskey, sorry US Cellular Field, during the World Series no less. It was rather non-descript, I thought. The big scoreboard in center field is nice, but what about that park makes it unique? As for the food, if I was an owner I'd offer a limited menu anyway. I have no need for sushi, pizza or clam chowder at a baseball game. Keep it simple.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/16/2006 11:20:00 AM
Another reason Wrigley is great, and one I forgot to mention, is the trough urinals. You can't beat that. It's simply the most efficient way to handle the bathroom needs of a large number of people.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/16/2006 11:25:00 AM
An even better link for Wigley troughs:

The Internet rules.

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/16/2006 11:29:00 AM
I lived a block away from Wrigley for three years in the mid 90's and probably attended around 30 games during that time. I got a completely different impression than you. The outside that I saw was old with cracked paint, pretty run down. The concourses are cramped, dark, dank and completely cut off from the game. It's pretty much like walking in the bowels of an old prison. The bathrooms do have troughs, which I guess is nice if you are into that type of thing. Many of the seats are obstructed because the upper deck has beams holding it up which are in the middle of the lower deck. Driving to the game is a pain in the arse, unless you want to a) walk about a mile to the game after parking or b) pay at least $30 to park. As you alluded to, there are no scoreboards with current lineups or pitchers, no replays, and relatively little info on the game at all other than the linescore.

I just don't get how any of that adds up to it being in anyone's top five ballparks. I u
Posted by herbilk at 5/16/2006 10:00:00 PM

I just don't get how any of that adds up to it being in anyone's top five ballparks. I understand that it's been around for a long time, and that there's some history to it. (Although most of the famous events that happened there were boxing, football or Babe Ruth's called shot. The Cubs never do anything sigificant there). But history doesn't make my time at a ballpark more enjoyable. If I had a 1955 black and white tv that only got three channels, I wouldn't say it was one of the best TVs just because it was old and was historic. I'd rather live in my house than in the log cabin that Abe Lincoln lived in despite the historic significance. And walking in cramped, dark concourses to get to a seat that may be obstructed so that I don't know who's pitching isn't an enjoyable way to watch a game.

It's great to go to Wrigley to get a feel for the history and get an idea of how people watched baseball decades ago. It is definitely a historic landmark and ever
Posted by herbilk at 5/16/2006 10:00:00 PM

It's great to go to Wrigley to get a feel for the history and get an idea of how people watched baseball decades ago. It is definitely a historic landmark and everyone should get there at least once to experience it. But it honestly isn't a better place to watch baseball on a regular basis than many of the newer major league ballparks.

Maybe I'm different because I go to a baseball game to actually watch baseball. Anything that allows me to better enjoy that part makes for a better stadium.
Posted by herbilk at 5/16/2006 10:01:00 PM
If you haven't had the chance, make it out to PNC Park. As RotoWire's own John Toperzer, who works there, will attest, the view of the river and downtown Pittsburgh is amazing. And you can't beat the Primanti Bros. cheesesteaks! I've only been to about 8 stadiums, but from a sheer aesthetic perspective, PNC Park rates number one with Oriole Park at Camden Yards a close second.
Posted by bscwik at 5/17/2006 9:21:00 AM
I love Wrigley - it's my favorite park because it was the first one I ever went to (I was 10, and I - for better or worse - fell in love with the Cubs that day). I've since lived in Chicago for many years and I know all the reasons why Wrigley is great.

In the last few years however, I've grown fond of Comiskey. It's somehow easier, cleaner, more comfortable. The concourses are great (especially compared to Wrigley), and the bathrooms are plentiful enough that you can get in and out during a typical between-inning break. Everything is cheaper there, and if you have kids, it is a much better place to visit. It's just not very interesting to look at from a baseball fan's standpoint.
Posted by kennruby at 5/17/2006 9:51:00 AM
As someone whose team plays in one of the worst parks, Shea Stadium, wouldn't mind a building that either had history or was more modern. Shea was built during the era of cookie cutter stadiums - like the Vet - and despite attempts to freshen it up and make it look more up to date, it still looks the same and has that old feel to it. The only cool part about driving to the stadium is seeing the globe from the 1964 World's Fair. I for one can't wait until the new park comes sometime in 2009, save for the parking issues that will exist when construction starts in the adjacent parking lot and the personal seat license I am sure they will charge me for the rights to keep my seats.
Posted by airjan23 at 5/18/2006 7:48:00 AM
Mets suck!
Posted by nayfel at 5/18/2006 9:24:00 AM
Yeah, as I said, Wrigley has some drawbacks. But its uniqueness and history make up for those. A park's history definitely makes my time at a game more enjoyable. One the great things about baseball is its history, and, yes, that's part of the experience of going to a baseball game. That all of the parks built in the last decade are retro-parks recalling the likes of Wrigley is a testament to that. That said, Wrigley isn't just about history, like, say, Yankee Stadium, which would be just another stadium without its voluminous history. Wrigley is as intimate (if not moreso) and unique as any of the new parks. Plus, there's no play area for children. If you're worried about an obstructed view, sit in the bleachers.

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/19/2006 11:20:00 PM

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