Going to Wrigley is a pilgrimage. Most ardent baseball fans will say it’s one of the places you just HAVE to visit to truly call yourself a fan. Those people are correct. On its surface, is a game at Wrigley the best possible baseball experience? Absolutely not, but it is a singular experience. Wrigley, like Fenway Park, takes you back 100 years and cements the bond between baseball fans of the past, and those of us watching today.
After Fenway (1912) and Wrigley (1914), the next oldest park still hosting major league games is Dodger Stadium (1962). That’s a 50 year head start on culture and tradition. It’s a must see, preferably in the daytime. I would go as far as to say go twice: Sit in the stands once, and in the bleachers once, as it is also a completely unique experience.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Concessions at Wrigley Field run the full gamut, and there are all sorts of options, but I recommend going with a true Chicago experience: Two dogs, Chicago style and an Old Style beer. They serve an official Chicago footlong, but if the seeded bun doesn't do much for you, get a couple of regular dogs, and head to the Chicago stand for the condiments.
During my most recent visit, we were shocked to see a $15 order of Super Slugger Nachos on the board. I had no idea what could possibly constitute a $15 nacho order. When we ordered it, the vendor rolled his eyes, and I knew we were on to something good. I'm a fan of the ballpark nacho, and I'm usually happy with the small tray... cheese and salsa in the side cups, and pretty thankful when jalapenos are offered. Not today. The Super Slugger is served in a full size plastic batting helmet - completely assembled. Layers of chips, cheese, salsa, black olives, green onion. It's a masterpiece, and if you have 3 or 4 people to help you get through it, it carries my highest recommendation. Best ballpark nachos I've ever come across.
Besides, the plastic batting helmet will cost you $13 in the souvenir stand, so the nachos are practically free. The cholesterol check may cost you extra. The cheap promo foam fingers we received made excellent sponges for cleaning out the helmet for the return trip.
Other Chicago favorites to consider include the Italian Beef Sandwich, D'Agostinos pizza and the Malt cup for dessert. Oddities include a Bison Dog (which is also delicious), a Veggie Chopped Salad, Mai Tai's and a Gluten Free stand.
Inside the park, the gametime atmosphere is first-class. The only experience that tops being in the seats at Wrigley for me is being in the bleachers. You're on top of the ivy, and these bleachers just feel so much closer to the action than any other outfield seats I know. The iconic hand operated scoreboard is massive from this vantage point.
The bleachers can get a little rowdy, but the Cubs have done wonders to allow a little frivolity and public intoxication, yet require that it remain family friendly, in a PG-13 kind of way. My teenage kids were very comfortable, and the one group that was getting a little rowdy were managed beautifully by the staff... A little bit of a time-out, but no ejections.
The atmosphere starts by the time you get on the Red Line subway (The "L"). As you get closer to the ballpark, more and more Cubs jerseys appear, and there's a forced intimacy as the trains are packed even two hours before game time. As you step off the train, you're immediately immersed in all that is Wrigleyville. This includes the good, and the bad. The level of ticket-hawking and scalper shops is unlike any other ballpark I've attended. I do appreciate the souvenir shops on the outside, though, as they have a more interesting assortment than you'll find inside the park. Plus, Wrigleyville provides excellent people watching.
Come as early as you can and make at least one full lap around the stadium. Be sure to head out behind the bleachers, and look for the Ballhawks during batting practice. Some of these guys have been catching BP and game home runs for almost 50 years.
Everyone gathers at the main entrance with the Welcome to Wrigley Field message board and the Ernie Banks statue, but there are great photo opportunities all around the park. Look for the charter buses that line up just to the right of the main entrance. You'll see a small chain link fence that will allow you to greet the players as they step off the bus and into the ballpark from about 3 feet away. Probably the closest vantage point, and best spot for autographs afterwards.
There are so many great options around the Wrigleyville neighborhood that it's impossible to cover everything here. Everyone has their personal favorites, so again, this relies mostly on personal preference. Slugger's, the Cubby Bear, and Murphy's Bleachers are the more large scale and well-known bars. They each have their place in the pantheon of establishments, and may be worth the visit,
Another great spot that comes highly recommended is Goose Island on Clark for the great burgers and overall good food, as well as the local brews that are all tasty. It's fairly big and can get crowded like the rest, but it's slightly less well-known than the three I mentioned above, so you have a better chance to get a table.
One off the radar choice is the Gingerman Tavern. It doesn't get real full with Cubs fans either before or after the game, so it's a good place to meet up with folks for a drink or two. They have a good selection of beers.
Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy what may be the very best neighborhood in all of professional sports.
Cubs fans are among the best in baseball. They're brash and a little crude, but they respect the game, and they're acutely aware of the action, no matter how much they've had to drink. During my most recent visit, the Reds were in town, and the fans travel to Chicago pretty readily. However, the Cubs fans are not at all harsh to fans in other jerseys. I wouldn't feel safe in Fenway's bleachers wearing a Yankee Jersey, but the Reds contingent near us in Chicago were welcomed, not shunned.
Alfonso Soriano seems to have a good relationship with the LF bleacher Bums, which is a good thing. Despite some truly horrible outfield play, they tend to cut him a break. The Cubs made five errors at this game, and the fans were upset, but it never got ugly... despite the four hour game time.
The public transportation is the only way to go. There aren't many places to park in Wrigleyville to begin with, and generally your best bet is to make an advance reservation online, and the parking will still cost you close to the price of a good ticket to the game.
While the public transportation is clean, and runs efficiently, there's just no way to get 40,000 people on one train. It's a packed sweaty mess, especially after a 4 hour day game loss. Best bet is to hang around the ballpark for about an hour after the game (check out the shops, grab a post game drink, whatever), and let the crowd die down. You'll still probably have to wait for a train or two before you can get in, but the frustration factor is greatly reduced.
From an ROI standpoint, Wrigley reminds me of Disney World. If you have kids, you know at some point you're going to have to go to Disney. It's going to be incredibly expensive, and you can't possibly put together an accounting sheet that says you've gotten your money's worth, unless you drag your kid around the park at 100 miles an hour to make sure they see everything.
But what parents have to learn about Disney, and holds true to Wrigley Field, is in order to extract the value, you have to slow down. You can't see it all, so don't try. Yes, it's going to be pricey... realize that, and move on. Enjoy what you can, and the value is not in what you see, do or eat, but in the smiles you receive in the end. You just witnessed a game in one of the true cathedrals of baseball. Having experienced Wrigley this time with two teenagers making their first visits, I know this to be true.
It's Wrigley... enough said. The Ivy, the brick, the atmosphere, the neighborhood, the fans. A Cubs game is a singular experience. It's not one thing that makes the extras here, it's everything that is a Cubs game. Yankees fans are passionate, but aloof. There's an expectation of winning and greatness.
Secondly, you're in Chicago: truly one of America's great cities. I grew up outside New York, and worked in Manhattan, so I won't even get in the fight about greatest cities, but Chicago is truly picturesque. Hop off the Red Line in the Loop. Walk the Magnificent Mile, head out towards Navy Pier. Stroll down along Lake Michigan towards the museums and Soldier Field. There is so much to see and do. Just make sure Wrigley Field is a part of your itinerary in the Windy City.
Wrigley Field is a baseball mecca, and you must visit. Don't rush. Give it time to sink in. Then stay awhile and truly enjoy what Chicago and Wrigleyville in particular lays out in front of you. It is why sports fans go to games.
Wrigley Field is one of those places that every fan has to have on their "must visit" list. The Friendly Confines is the second oldest ballpark in professional baseball, built in 1914. There have been many changes in recent years, and the argument can be made that other than the quality of the product on the field, this may be the best time in the history of Wrigley Field to go and see a Cubs game.
Since 1914, Wrigley Field has been helping to create memories for agonizing Cubs fans. When the ivy covers the walls, there may be no more perfect atmosphere to watch baseball than the Friendly Confines.
What began as land owned by the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, it has now become a sprawling neighborhood teeming with baseball energy. Wrigleyville, as the area has come to be known, is loaded with a myriad of bars and restaurants, as well as other entertainment options.
Wrigley field is just great. The location can't be beat, easy access from public transportation and located in a neighborhood with a lot of other food and entertainment options pre and post game. Does lack some of the more modern amenities in the park, but atmosphere and fans make up for that I think.
I am a loyal fan and have been a season ticket holder for 7 years. Even before my season tickets, I would go to twenty or so games a summer without batting an eyelash. Does that mean you should take my words as gospel? Yes.:)
OK, let's start with food. If you are looking for gourmet options like San Fran or the new Yankee Stadium, you'll be sadly disappointed. However, there are some tasty morsels, and here's where to find them. Downstairs, there are two booths near the edge of the park, in the main concourse. There, they sell Vienna Beef hotdogs, on my favorite, the poppy seed bun. You can also get grilled onions, which makes every dog that much tastier. If you get the dogs from the guys who come around, you will be lucky to get one that the bun and dog haven't somehow merged into one entity. This season, they have added bison dogs as an option everywhere, and those are pretty good, so if you get hungry in your seats, I would do those. Speaking of buffalo, here is a must eat. Downstairs, there is a booth that sells the buffalo dog, if you don't try this, well, I will never friend you on Facebook. It is a footlong beef or bison dog, topped with buffalo sauce and blue cheese cole slaw. The bun is a cheap one that will fall apart, but it tastes so good I just don't care. Other food things to try are the Connie's Pizza, though get the slices as opposed to the personal pizzas. The personal pizzas are mainly crust without any cheese or toppings, weheras the slices are thick and make you realize what Chicago pizza is.
Atmosphere...with the possible exception of the couple games I went to at the old Yankee Stadium, no fans know what is going on in the game more then Cubs fans. Standing ovations for sacrifice bunts, cheering for the pitcher with a full count, it is great, and exponentially cooler when the Cubs are halfway decent. They also boo, which I enjoy.
Neighborhoodwise, you can't beat the bar scene. Two places I like that are not necessarily the big spots are the Uncommon Ground about a block and a half north of the park, across Clark Street. Very good coffee and eccentric beers, plus great folk and acoustic music almost every night. The other is Lucky's, a sandwich joint about three blocks south of the park across Clark. heir sandwiches are out of this world, and come topped with fries. I recommend their corned beef. Plus, their beers are cheaper then most Wrigleyville establishments.
Access. The elevated train stops off right outside the park, though the lines after a Cubs win are enormous. I usually drive in early to beat the traffic and half a few cold ones somewhere. Parking is exorbitant, and will most of the time cost more then your ticket. However, if you don't mind walking a mile or so, you can park for free, though I am not going to tell you where...I want my spot to stay my spot, dig?
My season tickets are in the upper deck, and a better, cheaper great view of an MLB game would be tough to find.
I like baseball, in particular NL central baseball. I think Wrigley is one of the most unique stadium experiences in professional sports, but I've had it with the average fan that goes to games there. So many obnoxious drunks -- I wish they had a "old man section" where I could sit and keep score and appreciate the game without some 24yr old d-bag blabbing on his cell phone or some gross drunk couple sucking face directly in my line of sight. Having its own El stop a block away does make up for not having any parking, though.
If Wrigley is a 4 on Access, every other stadium is minimally a 7. I would go so far as to say its the worst ACCESS in all of sports. Out of towners will find the most challenging parking in baseball with rather hefty rates. The restrooms are small and run down. It is a pain in the a$$ to let people in and out of your aisle, there are poles in the way, and getting out of the stadium post-game is a nightmare.
The food is simply average.
First time participants will rate the ROI as a 5, but I'm a diva who likes smart phones, HOV lanes, and stem cell research, so I find return appearances a bit overpriced, especially considering the product on the field of late
Everything else gets perfect scores. Fans, Atmosphere, and Extras all Fives. The Neighborhood would get a 10 if applicable, so I guess I have to stick with the Five here as well.
Bottom line - see it once and watch the rest of the games from Goose Island.
I'll start by saying I've only visited Wrigley once in my lifetime and that being a couple of years ago with none other than Paul Swaney. I will say the place is great, reeks of great traidition just like Fenway. But at the price of seats and food & beverages not somewhere I would visit 10 to 15 times a year like I do Minute Maid. I would recommend taking the train dont try driving into Wrigleyville. Other than that it is a definite must see for all baseball fans!
Going here is a must for any baseball fan. This place is pure history and you definitely feel it when entering the stadium. The all beef hot dog is a must, I highly recommend getting the grilled onions on top. Beers are a bit expensive, but then again, what park isn't these days. Very loyal and outspoken fans, not the brightest in the world but they're fun. The neighborhood is worth a visit as well, bars as far as you can see. If you've never been, start planning your trip!
When you go to Wrigley the only other ballpark you can compare it to is Fenway being they were built within a couple years of each other. Unfortunately Wrigley is NOT Fenway and that's a bad thing. Fenway's been through 10 years of renovations that's made a 100 year old building as nice as any stadium that's been built in recent years. Wrigley hasn't started renovations yet so it's very distant to what Fenway is today. Yes, "upgrades" to Wrigley have been done in recent years but it's barely noticable. Don't get me wrong, Wrigley's no dump, just a Model T that's been sitting in a barn behind the house that is in desperate need of a restoration!
The fact that there's no replay screens or lcd boards (prior to 2012) didn't bother me at all. You have this amazing hand operated scoreboard in centerfield that has all of the info a true baseball would need. The ivy on the outfield walls is amazing. The look itself is almost indiscribable. Almost no advertising on the playing field brings you back to a time when players had jobs during the offseason and baseball was truly our national pastime.
Wrigleyville is a great neighborhood with lots of restaurants and bars around the stadium. It's great that it's not just a ballpark sitting in a sea of blacktop. Rooftop bleacher are an awesome vantage point to see the game across from Wrigley too, like none other in MLB.
On May 6th, my mom, dad and Me went to the see the Cubs take on the Dodgers. When we got off the EL or elevated, we headed right in. The smell of hotdogs and sauerkraut filled the concourse, it was great. The view from our section(226) was great, fans were super polite and not rowdy, the organist Gary Pressy pumped us up along with PA Announcer Andrew Belleson. I would like to go there at night some time, but anyhow, I had an awesome time.
Ive been to about a dozen different MLB parks and this is by far my favorite. Now I am a Cubs fan so that makes me pretty biased but growing up going to games there makes every other ballpark seem mediocre.
Everyone should take the elevated train at least once to the game. It drops you off right behind the right field wall and across the street. It is a cheap and convenient way to the game. Some of the best seats for the money are upper deck in left field close to third base which provides a nice view of the city to the east and a good prerspective right above the field. Remember, the older stadiums had different building requirements and the pitch in the rows is a little steeper than modern venues. YOu feel like you are right on top fo the field. Make your way to the main sign outside the stadium behind home plate. It is a shame there is so much commecializing OUTSIDE the stadium fans can see from their seats inside the stadium. Just another way for someone to make money and that's good for the economy (since Chicago resident Barack Hussein Obama can't do much to stimulate the economy).
Like any good fan, I made the trip to this baseball Mecca when I was visiting Chicago for a conference. Maybe it's the hype that goes along with the Wrigley experience, but I wasn't blown away.
Since I was staying downtown, I took the L to the park. Like most Cubs games, it was a day game. Since I wanted to see as much of the ballpark as I could, I left early. The train got very crowded as we got closer to the park, but not uncomfortably so. It leaves you off just a block away which is nice. As soon as I got there and looked around the neighborhood, I could see that it would be a nightmare for anyone driving there, but the trade off is a delightful area to hang out before the game. However, when your access is mostly limited to public transportation, I imagine getting could be a nightmare if you wait until the very end to leave the game.
I was not impressed with the concourse that runs around the stadium. It was old looking, crowded and the vendors weren't selling anything remarkable. The one restroom I used was small and nasty. It wasn't as bad as Fenway used to be before it was renovated though.
Maybe I wasn't looking in the right place, but I didn't see anything remarkable as far as food or beer. Most of the concessions were selling Old Style beer, which coming from NJ I never heard of. I tried one. That says it all. I went to one of the beer carts on one of the outer ledges to get something better for my second. Not that the selection was much better there, mostly Bud products.
Watching the game itself was great. My seat was actually at the top row on the third base line. The view was fine, and the field looked great. They were playing the Cardinals that day, so the fans were extra involved. The fans around me were very friendly and I enjoyed talking to them. And since I was up top, I could turn around and get a good view of Wrigleyville too.
I left early because my schedule required me to back in time for dinner and I was afraid of the after game rush to get back on the train. Otherwise I would've looked for a neighborhood haunt to hang out in.
I bought my ticket through StubHub, so it wasn't cheap. Therefore I can't gauge ROI on face value. But for what I paid, I just didn't think it was worth it.
This is the best place to watch baseball. Even though they haven't won a world series in over 100 years they are still one of the more storied franchises in the league. The field is the oldest field in the MLB and it is still in good condition. The fans are passionate and they want a world series ring. If you need to pick a baseball game to go to this season go up (or down) to Chicago to see a Cubs game.
It is a very unique experience ridding the train to north Chicago and getting out near Wrigley. There is no other experience like it that I've ever experienced. Not a bad seat in the house, and for how old the park is, it is a really nice game.
This stadium is a very fun stadium to be at it is cool it is much smaller then i thought it would be. It was an amazing experience and great food to.The fans are of course awesome.Now I went in the beginning of April on a freezing windy day but I was not disappointed
The neighborhood around the stadium is fun with a lot of bars and souvenir shops. Going to a game at Wrigley is like going back in time to watching a game in 1945. I've sat in the stands three times and the bleachers once. Growing up in West Michigan I watched more Cubs games than Tigers games so seeing the ivy in person is always breathtaking even though I'm not really a fan of the team. It's a pilgrimage every true baseball fan should make.
With that having been said, it's still in dire need of renovation. The concourses are small and overcrowded, the bathrooms are disgusting, and the obstructed views are more of an annoyance than a quirk. The concessions are the worst I've seen in the Major Leagues.
I would like to begin with saying I refer to myself as the greatest anti-Cubs fan, so I am biased, but I feel that the Wrigley experience is vastly overrated.
Let me begin with what I like about Wrigley;
- The field itself and the ivy covered wall is beautiful and the way every ballpark should look.
-The nieghborhood is very fun and even if you don't have tickets to the game it's fun going to one of the many bars to watch a game there.
Now my complaints:
-The exterior is just plain ugly. I can't possibly be the only one that feels that way. The chain link fencing around the ramps makes the place look like something straight from Good Times.
-The interior is falling apart, there are whole sections where you can see the rebar thru the cracked concrete.
- The fans? The Cub's typically draws 2.8+ million per year. There is no doubt in my mind that more than half of this comes from out of towners following their home teams or tourist wanting to scratch the Wrigley experience off their bucket list. The other half go to game to experience a very expensive buzz and barely have no recognitive knowledge that there is a ballgame going on.
-The bathrooms - So dirty it is hard to describe.
-The team - The Cubs suck and have sucked for many decades by design! Makes me wonder why anyone supports this poor excuse of a MLB franchise.
Food is above average albeit expensive. The Chicago Dogs are top notch. The atmosphere adaptable to what you are looking for in a baseball game. If you are looking for a youthful atmosphere sit in the bleachers and if you want to keep score sit somewhere else. Neighborhood is amazing, lots of bars, and it's a strong testament that fans stay in Wrigleyville hours after the game is over. Cubs fans are diverse, but all passionate which you have to be when your team hasn't been to a World Series since America put the Japanese in Internment camps. Parking is difficult to find, there are a few lots and they are constructing more and many Wrigleyvillians such as myself will allow you to park in their garage for a Jackson. Strongly suggest taking the Red Line or the #22 bus to the game as they are efficient and they run right to Wrigley's doorstep. You are never going to be shortchanged by the experience at Wrigley even if the performance on the field doesn't match up. No other stadium has Ivy growing on the walls, a hand-operated scoreboard, a marquee from the 1930s and fans watching from rooftops across the street, so extras can only be a 5.
I remember being about 6 years old and turning a baseball game on TV. I noticed the brick walls and the ivy. 20 years later, I was there, just as people were 60 years prior. Watching baseball in such a timeless environment is pure bliss.
If you're on this site, you probably know quite a bit about stadiums to begin with. Wrigley is an icon, and there isn't much I can add based on my sole visit there. The only thing I can contribute to the discussion is this: Fenway's better. That's not at all a slight against Wrigley, which I loved. It's just not quite the same.
There is no parking. There is no train (unless coming from northshore or downtown). There is nothing for families to do other than watch the game. I love going to Wrigley with my friends for a day out but I have to be honest when reviewing it. If you are going out with friends for beers and a game its very good but getting there is a headache and there is nothing to do if you are going with the family. The surrounding establishments are not for kids at all. You need to park far away and walk a long long way or pay $50+ to park. The food is not good in the park and everything is well above MLB average. The team is usually awful and the majority of the fans are not paying any attention. Avoid the bleachers if you are with young ones. There are a lot of bad seats in the park where you are in the shade (and cold) on a nice summers day and your view is blocked by poles and overhangs. It has to be given a combined 2 on extras and access since it has no extras and outside of walking or a bus in heavy heavy traffic its impossible to get to.
I am not a Cubbies' fan and never will be, but everyone should attend a game here. It is almost like telling an American baseball fan to watch a game in Tottenham or Manchester of the EPL. The classic ballpark still shows it is top of the class 100-years after its construction and provides an ambiance that can not be duplicated with any 21st Century ballpark design or idea. Best way to to arrive at the game is by the L, since parking is a hassle and traffic is dense (hey, the park was built in 1914, these things happen). However, if you ever wanted to park for almost nothing, attend a Cubs game on Easter Sunday and you will find plenty of free meter parking. It happens once in a blue moon, but I have done it twice in the past 12-years. As for the ballpark, iconic scoreboard, rooftop bleachers, ivy laced brick wall, and narrow aisles all remind us of why baseball is the national pastime. It is a lot fun, no matter who you are rooting for.
Visiting Wrigley for the first time ever this year was great. I loved pretty much everything about it. If you're like me and going for the first time, be sure to get your First-Timer Certificate on the concourse on the first base side.
The upper level has a balcony that looks out towards Downtown. If you sit in the terrace level, be sure to bring an extra jacket as those seats never see the sun.
Overall my experience at a Cubs game was just fantastic though.
3740 N Clark
Chicago, IL 60613
3653 North Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL 60613
3527 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60657
3540 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60657
3535 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60657
3434 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657