Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Pittsburgh Baseball Fan in Chicago

When I found out that my job was going to be sending me to Chicago, the first thing I did was to check to see if the Cubs were in town. I've never been to Chicago before, so this was my first opportunity to check out the second oldest ball park in the Majors.

It was a Tuesday night game against St. Louis, and thanks to the Cubs stinking this season, tickets were cheap. For $12 bucks, we were able to get seats just a few rows back from the front of the upper deck, just to the first base side of home plate.

I've read in various places that Wrigley Field is a dump and should be replaced with a modern stadium, but that's anything but the case. It's different for sure. You have to enter the stadium through the correct entrance because not every entrance has access to other areas. To get to the upper deck, you have to climb some narrow staircases and catwalks. Of course, there's also the ill-placed pillars that make any seat a gamble and you can't even see the entire field from the back reaches of the lower deck because of the overhang. I'm not typically the kind of person who buys into tradition for the sake of tradition, but this place legitimately had good character.

Instead of having a old-timey feel, a la PNC Park, Wrigley is the real deal. The brick and mortar construction with exposed steelwork have the feel of being less-than-perfectly hand built in a good way. The kind of place that was built to suit a purpose and to last for as long as possible. Everything felt well-maintained and still capable of handling a 40,000+ capacity crowd.

Once in your seats, the biggest difference from most stadiums is that everything is focused on the baseball. There's no big screen, no music, no between inning entertainment. Just lights, an old school organ, and PA announcer. I also made sure to have an Old Style and Chicago dog to complete the authentic viewing experience.

Almost as good as the ball park experience itself was the trip to the field. A nice cab ride from downtown along Lakeshore Drive went quick and it was impressive to see the scores of people out enjoying the nice weather. As you near the stadium, you drive through an upscale neighborhood of rowhouse and then, bam, there's the stadium, right in the middle of a residentail neighborhood. Makes me wish I could someday retire on a side street near to PNC, hit up a bar on my walk to the park, and catch a game most summer nights.

Chicago was an impressive city overall, but more than any of the attractions I saw when I was there, going to Wrigley was the highlight of the trip. I'd recommend making it your first priority while in Chicago the next opportunity you get.


  1. Sounds like a great time. I really want to go there as my next stadium to visit.

    I wish I would have been able to go to Forbes Field, it would have been neat to see a neighborhood ballpark in Oakland with the park, bars & restaurants and people hanging out and not just being surrounded by parking lots. Fenway might be similar since it is not in the downtown skyscraper section of the city.

  2. Pills said...

    I was able to see the Cubs play a day game at Wrigley and it was definitely a cool experience. Your thoughts echo mine. It makes me wish I could go back to the days of wearing a fedora and tie to a game instead of a jersey. It is too bad that "new old time parks" can't capture the true atmosphere of the real old time parks.