On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric at Wrigley Field
So you’ve decided to heed the call to adventure. Good for you. If you need to refer back to what the Guide actually is or who I actually am, please refer to the included links.
The Mandatory Stop on the Baseball Bucket List
The Guide says the following about Wrigley Field:
[There originally was a note about whether one would eat the moon if it was made of ribs.] I had my work cut out for me to update this entry.
The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. The ballpark is one of the two remaining jewel-box stadiums in baseball. In my view, visiting this stadium is a mandatory stop on any baseball fan’s bucket list. Cliches are mocked because they can show a lack of original thought, and can make a writer appear unimaginative and lazy. However, in some cases, the cliches are true and serve as a foundation of knowledge to build upon. Going to a Dodgers/Cubs game in Chicago is no different.
The Five Questions of the Guide:
1. Is it worth going here?
There’s a good reason for the old joke that Wrigley Field would still sell out even if all the seats were facing away from the field. While the park definitely shows its age, at times, I cannot think of a single reason that a self-respecting Dodgers fan would have to turn their collective noses up at Wrigley Field.
Granted, my visit was during the socially distant days of early May 2021, so I feel that I had an atypical visit as to the social elements of going to Wrigley Field and experiencing Chicago. Even with this handicap in place, I still had a wonderful time enjoying myself at a Dodgers game in Chicago, even with the terrible, worst-in-the-year results.
From statutes to the history of the neighborhood, Wrigley Field is one of those baseball experiences that I would heartily recommend to either the solo traveler or the group traveler. The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field does earn its reputation for being a worthy inclusion on most fans’ baseball bucket lists.
While not perfect, it is this Guide’s view that if you, as a Dodger fan, are able to go to a Dodgers game at Wrigley Field, you would do yourself a disservice to not do everything reasonably possible in order to make that trip happen.
2. How should I get there?
Unless you have some Sheldon Cooper-esque love for trains, or you have some Jack Kerouac-like need to go on a road trip, I cannot think of any plausible reason that you should not fly into O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. There’s a branch of the Chicago Transit Authority that will take you into the city, so unless you are staying away from the elevated lines, you should not need to rideshare or taxi away from O’Hare.
Moreover, getting to the actual game at Wrigley is a breeze, as you don’t need a car. Just take the Red Line of the Chicago Metro to Addison Station, as you can see Wrigley Field from the train. If you can’t see the stadium, you are looking out the wrong side of the train. There are numerous ways into the stadium once you are there, so you are not forced to play Entrance Roulette as you would at pre-Centerfield Pavilion Dodger Stadium.
Once you get to Wrigley Field, you will likely marvel at how seamlessly the stadium meshes with the surrounding neighborhood. In some ways, this setup is entirely opposite of Dodger Stadium, where the ballpark is essentially cut off from the surrounding neighborhood in its own private alcove, which requires either a car or a bus to enter. At Wrigley, if you are taking a car to the game, in my view, you are missing the point. As far as I understand, parking for Wrigley is several blocks away.
3. Where should I stay?
Honestly, there are two schools of thought on the subject: either stay in the Loop, Chicago’s iconic downtown neighborhood, or stay in a hotel or hostel near Wrigley Field itself. On my first trip to Chicago, I actually stayed at an extremely reasonable AirBnB on the southside of Chicago that was conveniently close to the Red Line of the Chicago Transit Authority. The main reasons for this decision were the fact that I was on the road for over a week at this point and I needed a place to do laundry and it was significantly cheaper than either of the two earlier identified options.
I normally do not hedge my recommendations, but I will make an exception in this case. If you have never been to Chicago at all, stay in the Loop. It is slightly to significantly more expensive to stay in (compared to other parts of Chicago, depending on how fancy you want to make your accommodations) but you will have access to all of the major sights and sounds of the Northern half of Chicago with easy access to the rest of the city, thanks to the Chicago Transit Authority.
If all you care about is going to a Dodgers/Cubs game, then I would recommend a stay near Wrigley Field in Wrigleyville. It is more of a pain to actually enter/exit Chicago with this option due to the fact you are going to be on the train longer from O’Hare to the actual city than if you were staying in the Loop. The benefit is that you will be in the heart of the residential neighborhood in which Wrigley Field resides and you will likely be able to walk to the ballpark. There is even a hotel directly across the street from Wrigley if you are so inclined to use it.
It is striking to note how Wrigley Field is organically the heart of this portion of Chicago with various bars and restaurants within walking distance nearby. Places like Atlanta had to create this atmosphere (poorly) artificially, so why not visit the place that has been fostering this atmosphere for over a century.
4. Where should I sit?
Where to sit at Wrigley is an interesting puzzle. I previously promised that I would give better insight than “sit behind home plate” or “sit by the Dodgers dugout.” As for what to get while you’re at Wrigley, unless you do not eat meat, you would be denying yourself one of life’s true pleasures if you skipped having a Chicago dog.
I do not recall the food being that memorable at Wrigley Field. That statement is not to say that the food was bad by any means. Even in the Catalina Club, where everything but alcohol was complimentary, I remember thinking that the food was fine and nothing more. If you go, and it is cold, I would strongly recommend getting hot chocolate from the passing vendors. But admittedly, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.
The following are my recommendations for where to sit in Wrigley Field.
- If you’re on a budget:
I found that the seating costs at Wrigley were generally quite reasonable. However, if your goal is to spend as little as possible, your best bet is either seats in the bleachers or anywhere away from the action along the first or third baselines. The main thing to remember about sitting on the first or third baselines is that Wrigley is a jewel-box stadium and if you are not careful, you will end up with an obstructed view due to a support column. The below photographs will best demonstrate that point.
A solo Dodgers fan invited me to sit by him for Game 2 of the May 4, 2021 doubleheader, for which I bought him hot chocolate as it was quite cold that day. As you can see, my view greatly improved, ironically, by moving farther away from home plate.
- If you want to sit somewhere fun:
If you truly want to sit somewhere fun, a truly interesting idea that I did not have the chance to experience firsthand yet would be watching a game from the rooftops of buildings that are next door to Wrigley. I have included a credited photo below to provide a demonstration on the off-chance that you do not know what I am talking about.
The main thing to remember is that these rooftop seats are outside of Wrigley Field and are technically the purview of a third-party company. Moreover, these seats tend to be more expensive than seats inside Wrigley. I would use these seats once at most by myself. Otherwise, these seats would be a blast for a group.
So instead, using my own experience, I will recommend checking Stubhub to see if you can get a discounted seat in the club seating of Wrigley. On May 5, 2021, I saw that I could get into the Catalina Club, which is beneath the press box, behind home plate for less than the normal face value of the ticket at the time ($200 instead of $325). Personally, I would not spend that much on a ticket going forward, unless it was a playoff ticket (mostly likely, a World Series ticket). But seeing a bunch of heartbreaking losses in a row can do strange things to a person, and I justified the decision for going for a fancy seat based on the idea that I was unlikely to ever return to Wrigley.
What the rendering does not show you to the right is the hot food area. You can offset the overall cost of your ticket by taking advantage of the included food (both entrees, appetizers, and snacks) and drink (non-alcoholic). Moreover, the indoor area is quite warm if you happen to visit Wrigley during a cold/rainy snap.
You can likely have a grand time in the bleachers interacting with the Friendly Denizens. My sole visit so far was during the era of social distancing so I feel that I have not fully experienced the true grandeur of bantering with the denizens of Wrigley Field.
- You want the sit somewhere that has the best value for your dollar:
I found that I got the most value from sitting in Section 218. I have posted a screen of its location of general sections in relation to Wrigley below.
These seats, especially when not obstructed, give a clear, crisp view of home plate and are usually relatively inexpensive. I recall spending about $30 for my seat to Clayton Kershaw’s worst start of his career, so far.
Granted, you would pay to be closer to the action, but what is not obvious based on this photo is that I had complete protection from the sun and rain. There was a mild wind tunnel effect but provided you bring a light jacket, this condition should not be a major issue unless you are susceptible to the elements.
Considering their vantage point and cost, seats in Sections 216 through 218 are an excellent choice for those who are looking for the most value from their seating choices at Wrigley Field.
5. After your trip, is it worth going back?
In the disclaimer to the Guide, I described the informal range of subjective outcomes after visiting a location. So far, I have been to three games at Wrigley Field, of which the Dodgers lost all three in disheartening fashion.
That fact said, I had fun and I can hardly wait to go back.
Based on the history and the atmosphere of the location, combined with the ease of access and the economical range of seating, Wrigley Field earns its stellar reputation. The only reason that I would not attempt to go back yearly is that I find that the logistical costs of getting to Chicago and staying in Chicago (especially if I am staying in the Loop) are a bit prohibitive without careful planning. I would likely feel differently if I lived closer to Chicago and would likely go every year. As I am a native Californian, in my mind, I only need to go during a playoff matchup or every few years.
With that statement said, I do heartily recommend going to Wrigley Field to watch the Dodgers and the Cubs duke it out. You will certainly be glad that you did if you do decide to go.