My review of the historic Wrigley Field

Soaking in my first afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Last weekend, I spent time in Chicago. Living in Indianapolis, everything is completely different.

Parking is at least $20, roads are jam-packed no matter the time of day, and public transportation is widely used.

I can’t believe how much I spent on public transportation over the weekend. To get from the Intercontinental Hotel near O’Hare to Wrigley Field was no an easy task.

1 – hotel shuttle to ‘L’
2 – rode the ‘L’ about five stops to Addison
3 – took the metro bus what felt like 45 minutes to just outside the ball park.

I’m there, finally, elbow to elbow with fans.

At first glance, I was in awe. This venue is arguably one of the fan favorites in the country. No, not because it’s brand new or has a remarkable video board. (It has neither.)

But then once inside, honestly, I was very disappointed.

I compare Wrigley and Indiana’s Assembly Hall. Both are terrible venues but they mean so much and are widely known. Bad sight lines, small concourses, and more. But a faithful fan base.

During the game, Cubs vs. Reds, I rarely stayed in the same seat for more than a couple innings. I took in the game and atmosphere from behind the plate, right field, left field, the upper deck, and in the concourses.

First of all, the cell phone reception was horrible. While trying to tweet, I couldn’t even read recent tweets. That’s a fail by all measures, especially if the Cubs are trying to put out information, stats and promotions on their various accounts.

Being a broadcaster, I am very attentive to the public address announcer, especially because they shopped for one on YouTube this summer.

The sound was awful to hear, especially in the cheaper seats. It was tough to hear the announcer, walk-up music and promotions between innings. I did like the fact that the Cubs are old school, having a person play an organ instead of the typical in-game music.

The biggest fail with Wrigley Field however, was no video board. It was awful. Old folks may argue that games are more pure without but I’m telling you, they are missing out. No replays, no in-game hosts, no promotions, and nothing to keep the attention of fans. I am so use to a video board that I took it for granted.

Until Saturday, I don’t remember going to a college or professional game without replays or interaction with the board. The scoreboard out in center field was awful to read, making it difficult for myself and others to stay on top of this game and others around the league. Maybe it would be controversial for them to build one but it’s necessary.

One knowledgeable usher told me, “once they get a big money sponsorship, we will finally get a video screen. They’re just waiting for the money.”

The outfield bleachers seemed like the place to be during the game. Usually the cheap seats, but at Wrigley they are exclusive and you must have a specific ticket (and it’s not the cheapest option). That was about the only public place in the venue I didn’t visit because I simply couldn’t.

And if you had the money and connections, the rooftops were jumping. Catching a Cubs game with friends on a rooftop is definitely something on my bucket list. That’s the way to go.

A Saturday noon game in Chicago was packed, making for a fun environment. I did conclude that more people came to the game to socialize and have a good time than to watch the game. The farther I was sitting from the field, the more chatter was going on and the more beer was flowing (at $7 per beer). There’s no doubt fans have a blast at games, but I think they can make the experience even better.

A big surprise to me was standing room only seats. Yes, they sold SRO tickets. Fans with a drink in hand, would line up side-by-side, leaning on the rails to enjoy the ballpark atmosphere. Not bad, but I couldn’t do it for 3+ hours. And in 90 degree weather? No thanks.

Cubs and sports fans alike come to Wrigley Field for baseball games and to see the park. I can’t believe most baseball parks do do this, but the Cubs offer daily tours of Wrigley.

Concessions and merchandise are big money-makers for teams and if the lines were any indication, the Cubs were making plenty of cash. I’m not one that usually spends money at games, but I did have to splurge for a ballpark Chicago hotdog and a beverage.

I did enjoy my first experience at Wrigley Field. I was  however disappointed-mainly because living in Indianapolis, I am spoiled with Conseco Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium. Heck even AAA baseball venue Victory Field is more comfortable and caters to fans. But there’s no questioning the fans’ passion for the Cubs and the historic Wrigley Field.

How can you not like the Ivy in the outfield.

Below is a video I shot while at Wrigley Field.

3 Responses to My review of the historic Wrigley Field
  1. Paul Swaney
    August 9, 2011 | 2:37 pm

    This is a different perspective for sure. I don’t necessarily disagree with much of what you’re saying, but ultimately I come to a different conclusion. Wrigley Field is great because it is a glimpse into the past. There are plenty of upgrades that would make the overall experience better, but you would lose that opportunity to see a game as close as to what it was decades ago. Wrigley is far from perfect, but that only adds to the beauty.

  2. Jayson
    August 9, 2011 | 3:49 pm

    As I loyal Cubs fan through the thick and thin, I adore Wrigley Field. I understand it may not be the the most advanced but that’s okay. We go for the Cubs and for the experience. Nothing like a great fall day, beginning at the Cubbie Bear and watching Chicago’s real MLB team win.

  3. Bearsman10
    August 9, 2011 | 6:17 pm

    I’ve been to almost half the ball parks and I agree with your assessment. Wrigley is one of a kind. You can’t beat the history and pride in the building. But not having simple things that I am use to like a videoboard and a great sound system just don’t cut it. There’s no way they can tear it down but renovations NEED to be made.

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