I recently met some friends for a long weekend in Chicago. One of them, a big sports fan, suggested we attend a game at Wrigley Field. I thought it might be interesting, knowing that Wrigley is an older park with, presumably, lots of history.
The last time I attended a major league ball game was in the 1980s, when I lived in New York City, and I recall paying less than $5.00 for general admission to both Yankee and Shea stadiums. Though I’m not a big sports fan, my occasional visits to these venues were relaxing and enjoyable.
I know prices have gone up in the last 30 years, but the inflation attending sporting events appears to rival that attending college tuition. A reserved seat near the third base foul pole cost $75.00, and afforded only a distant view of the diamond. Three hot dogs and three bottles of water set me back $37.00.
Worse than the prices was the experience. We were seated below a speaker that blared “music” every time there was a lull in the action (which was about 80% of the time) at ear-splitting volume. After hearing “Who Let the Dogs Out” a dozen or so times, I agree with those who, in a poll, rated it one of the top 20 annoying songs, according to Wikipedia. Blaring a snippet of “What’s Up Chris” every time Kris Bryant came to bat might have been clever once, but I tired of it the fourth or fifth time. There was a little bit of the traditional organ music, but not nearly enough. The new electronic scoreboards were more geared to displaying commercials than useful information (thankfully, the original scoreboard remained and was my primary source of information). There was really nothing (except for some statues of players outside) that I could see that called attention to any of the history or traditions of the stadium. Even the ivy wall had been defaced by panels placed in it for the sole purpose, apparently, of displaying commercial messages.
Though we were unable to stay until the end of the game because of the need to catch early flights the next day, the part of the game we saw was pretty good, and we learned later that it went 13 innings, past midnight, and that the Cubs won by one run.
The urban location of Wrigley field presented an opportunity for owners of nearby properties. Many of the houses and other buildings that afforded a view of the field had been outfitted with elaborate bleachers and other amenities. Next time, I may try one of those. Or, if I want the best views, the ability to tune out the noise and the ability to use the copious down time productively, I’ll watch on television.
The rest of the trip offered many enjoyable things. An architecture tour by boat on the Chicago River was interesting and fun. The Art Institute is one of the world’s leading museums. Less famous were the Driehaus Museum, a restored Golden Age mansion (be sure to check out the exterior of the Richardson-inspired mansion housing Mr. Driehaus’s business diagonally across the street) and the nearby Bloomingdale’s Home store, which us to house a Shrine Circus and has restrooms that have been nationally recognized as among the best. The Cloud Gate (known to locals as “The Bean”) and the rest of Millenium Park are worth a visit. Though I’d been to Chicago before, there’s still a lot I haven’t seen.
Chicago earns praise from me by offering a single seat ride on its transit system from each of its commercial airports to its downtown. The transit system, which we also took to and from the ball game, was clean, efficient, not too crowded, and easy to use.