A general view of Wrigley Field between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 21, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
CHICAGO – Even after winning the World Series in 2016, they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around.
When the snow melts away, the Cubbies still play in their renovated, but still Ivy-covered, burial ground.
It’d been a while since I’d been back to the North Side, nine years or so, and the neighborhood surrounding Wrigley Field looks a lot different. There’s a bowling alley in a new building across the street, and a sports book has been appended to the ballpark near the right field gate, replacing the outdoor bar. Video boards have been added in both right and left field, a modern touch to the second-oldest Major League ballpark.
But even with the changing neighborhood, the videoboards, and a World Series title, Wrigley Field is still the gem it has always been: as much a ballpark as it as a shrine to baseball, a historical site that links baseball fans across its 108 season hosting professional baseball played at the highest level.
Wrigley Field might be the greatest place anywhere to watch a baseball game, and though I have yet to visit every Major League ballpark, it’d be hard to top my visit last Friday, when the Cubs lost to the Royals 4-3.
My son and I took the train from New York to Chicago, checked in to our hotel, and then made our way up the Red Line to Addison for his first Major League game. It was a beautiful day, with a few scattered clouds in the sky and the temperature at a comfortable 76 degrees, and in addition to the ballgame, we were treated to sightings of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and a post-National Anthem flyover of a C-17 Globemaster.
Taking a five-year-old to the ballpark isn’t always easy, but we had a good time. With seats in the shade and a stiff breeze blowing in from center field, we made a trip to the team store for a fleece blanket ($45) in the middle of the fifth inning. Ensconced in the blanket, my little buddy found the stadium seat comfy enough to fall asleep… on top of my right arm, making my wallet and phone inaccessible.
Next to us were a pair of season ticket holders, Nancy and Patrick, who’ve kept their seats for years even though they live halfway across the country. At the end of the bottom of the sixth, Patrick was heading down to the concourse, and had an Old Style sent my way – with a sleeping child on top of me, I wasn’t going anywhere or ordering anything. Hopefully, I’ll cross paths with them again so I can buy them a round.
They don’t call them “The Friendly Confines” for nothing.
Ticket Prices – 2.5/5
Wrigley Field and the surrounding Wrigleyville neighborhood have turned into the place to go out in Chicago when the Cubs are home. And though the Ricketts family, which owns the team and Wrigley Field, are fantastically rich, the renovations to the ballpark weren’t cheap.
We got two seats in the third row of section 213 for around $75 each, including taxes and fees. That’s not terrible, considering we were in the shade for the whole game. If you’ve ever gotten a Wrigley Field sunburn (I have, but that’s another story), you’ll pay the premium for the shade. That said, ticket prices at Wrigley have gone up sharply over the past 15 years, in part because of the team’s success and in part because of the neighborhood’s evolution as a destination.
Access From The City – 4.5/5
If you’re anywhere near the CTA’s Red, Purple, or Brown lines, it’s pretty easy to get to Wrigley Field, and the red line stop at Addison is just a block from the right field corner.
Concessions – 4/5
I gave the Wrigley Field concessions four stars because they’ve got the basics: the hot dogs were good, and the beer was cold. Two hot dogs, a Heineken, and a Gatorade ran about $35. When you’re at the ballpark, you’re a captive audience, so you pay it.
Game Experience – 3.75/5
Even with the video boards, Wrigley Field is a gem. The main attraction is still baseball, and the music and video boards don’t drown out the game on the field. There’s less organ music now than there used to be, and the canned music can be a little bit loud between innings, but nowadays, that’s baseball.
Overall – 4/5
You didn’t have to grow up rushing home to watch the Cubs on WGN after school to know why Wrigley Field is a special place. Never miss your chance to visit the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. But if it’s under 80 degrees, maybe bring an extra layer. It gets cool in the shade.
Editor’s note: This piece represents the opinions of the author and not those of the World Baseball Network.