When spring training begins, I always look over the Mets’ schedule and make a mental asterisk next to about ten games both home and away that I’d like to attend if I have the chance.
At no point was Tuesday’s Mets vs. Cubs game at Wrigley Field ever on my hypothetical list, but once the team made the decision to DL Dillon Gee and promote Noah Syndergaard I felt like it was a game I suddenly couldn’t miss.
So I took a day off from work, booked a flight from Orlando to JFK to O’Hare (JetBlue has free TVs and snacks!), picked up tickets on StubHub and – SHAZAM! – there I was for the debut of Thor.
Going to a game at Wrigley Field was always on my bucket list. As a baseball fan, how could it not be? Two years ago, I made the pilgrimage out there for a Cubs/White Sox game just because I had a day off. I’m glad I did it then as it was still “old” Wrigley and hadn’t been tampered with yet.
If you didn’t know, the park is currently going through some major overhauls as the ownership team is trying to walk a fine line between modern renovations while still keeping the classic spirit of the place in tact. It’s a completely similar situation as the Fenway Park stuff from a few years back. The construction has been behind schedule basically since it started. The portion of the bleachers in left field were only just reopened Monday for the first time and the half in right field still has a lot of work waiting to be completed.
They’ve also added two large LCD video boards which – though I appreciate them because I love information – just doesn’t seem to fit the motif of Wrigley. The old, hand-operated scoreboard in center field is still there and still updated as usual, but gets almost lost between the color and pixel overload of the other two now.
Cubs tickets have historically been a little pricey. It’s the double whammy of baseball game/tourist attraction. I scoured StubHub and was able to get 5th row seats on the field level behind the Mets’ bullpen for $43 each. I didn’t think that was bad at all. Especially once I learned that face value was apparently $89!
Parking is a nightmare at Wrigley. I took the train from the airport (Blue Line to Jackson, transfer to the Red Line and take it to Addison which lets you off legitimately down the block) which wasn’t bad. A $5 ride and a little over an hour and you’re right there. Cealey (the lovely, young lady that actually didn’t mind me forcing her to wear a Thor helmet at this game), however, was driving down from Wisconsin and then threw a fit about parking prices.
You’re downtown in a major city. There’s traffic, it’s congested and there’s nowhere to go. Parking is very limited so the Taco Bell and McDonalds near the park are legitimately selling spots in their lot for like $30 for the game. Ceals was having none of that and legitimately parked about a half-hour walk away and then jogged to the stadium because she’s a maniac.
Once we got inside, I immediately took her to a stand on the main concourse to get a certificate for her first time at Wrigley Field. I actually think it’s pretty cool that they do that. Sure, you could lie and get one all the time, but what fun would that be? Its a simple certificate that features the game, the date and pictures of Wrigley while the woman at the stand fills in your name. A nice touch to what is a bucket list item for a lot of people.
Then it was time for concessions. Wrigley doesn’t really feature a dazzling array of food or drink choices. For the most part, it’s standard ballpark fare of hot dogs, peanuts and the ever-popular Cracker Jack. Cealey did have a pulled pork sandwich which she enjoyed, but that seemed to be the extent of exotic food options.
We had a good time at the game which is almost impossible not to do when you’re out with friends, but Wrigley Field will never be among my favorite ballparks.
It’s 101 years-old now. Seats are small. Concourses are congested. Bathrooms are still utilizing troughs for gentlemen to pee in which led to quite a few stares and me looking back to say, “Don’t act like you’re not impressed!” But seriously, it’s just so, so outdated.
Add into the fact that I’m now spoiled by the amenities of the modern ballparks and suddenly Wrigley’s lack of space, food and drink and available parking all become magnified.
Maybe things will change as they continue to renovate the park just as the Red Sox were able to do a lot more with Fenway than most people thought possible. Who knows? But for right now, I’d give it a 5 out of 10. Points for historical significance, minuses for just about everything else.
At the end of the day, I’m glad I can say I’ve been there. If you’re a baseball fan, it’s one of those things that you almost have to do. But once you do, you’ll never feel like you have to go back.