As I mentioned, Chicago is home to two major league baseball teams – the Cubs and the White Sox. The city is home to a few more professional sportsball teams, but I don’t care about them. So it was just a matter of finding a week when both teams would have some home games, and then scheduling my visit then.
While neither of their home stadia are in the downtown area, they are both convenient to mass transit. Wrigley Field was first on the schedule.
Take the Red Line train to the Addison station, and you’re two blocks away. Along those two blocks are a couple of bars and souvenir shops, along with street vendors hawking drinks and Cubs merchandise. I was not interested.
Wrigley is one of the oldest stadia in baseball, and although it’s clean and functional and by no means run down, it’s missing many of the amenities one expects of a contemporary sports facility. On the plus side, no giant electronic scoreboard showing silly animations and telling fans “Let’s Make Some Noise”. On the negative side, the main scoreboard does NOT show the standard line score of runs per inning with the total runs, hits, and errors. It does show the runs per inning for every game being played, but barely highlights that of the game you’re watching. There are also a bunch of numbers here and there that have no identification to tell you what they are. They are not the numbers for the pitchers in the game, that much is clear. Oh, it’s a manual scoreboard, too.
Yes, it’s “quaint” and “charming”, and at least the rest rooms are clean and plentiful. And you do have the option of paying through the nose (presumably) to sit on those bleachers on the buildings across the street. I guess you really have to be a Cubs fan to appreciate it.
I admit that I laughed when I spotted this ad, though:
The game itself was a pretty exciting back-and-forth affair, though the Cubbies lost.
Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox, followed. Take the Red Line to the “Sox-35th” Station. You’re a short distance from the stadium, but you do have to walk across a bridge over I 90 / I 94….and run a gantlet of people trying to sell you beverages of all sorts at “3 for $10, cheaper than inside” (and smelling of marijuana)….
Getting inside, however, was a real problem for me. Everyone has gone to online ticketing. There are constant announcements as you near the ticket booths and gates: “Your phone is your ticket.” Well, I carefully checked that I did indeed have my tickets on my phone before I left my hotel. But when I got to Guaranteed Rate Field, they had vanished. I could not get them to load. I had the thing that said I had a ticket and click here to access it (i.e. load and display the QR code), I had carefully saved my receipt as a PDF file so I could prove that I had purchased the ticket. But the actual, scannable ticket itself? No dice. It took me around forty five minutes at two separate ticket windows – with the stadium staff trying everything they could think of to activate some sort of WiFi (aren’t all MLB stadia supposed to have free WiFi available?) so my tickets would load – before they gave up and printed out an actual honest-to-god PAPER TICKET for me. I’m amazed they still had the things in stock! Missed the first two innings because of this….
And it wasn’t just me; I heard other people complaining about their tickets not loading, too….
As you can tell from the ticket, my seat was up in the nosebleed level. The place had all the amenities and bells and whistles I’m used to at major league stadia. And although the main electronic scoreboard did indeed display all sorts of information, it did “glitch” during the game….
A nice, quick, sharply-played game, by the way.
Going to baseball games took up two nights of my stay. What to do with all the other time? How about some tours?