Wrigley Field Guide – Where to Park, Eat, and Get Cheap Tickets
Wrigley Field is one of the last two true historic ballparks left standing. Known as the "Friendly Confines", every true baseball fan should make a trip there at least once in their lifetime.
The Old Time League Scoreboard Keeps You Updated - via Flickr user Niklas Hellerstedt
And now that the curse has been lifted and Wrigley hosted the 2016 World Champions, tickets are all the more in demand.
Hosting the Cubs since 1914 - via Flickr user Sam Howzit
Arriving at Wrigley Field
Alternative/Public Transportation to a Cubs Game
Most people that go to the game take the "L" train, which is a great idea. You can take the Red line and be dropped off right next to the stadium at the Addison Street stop, without the hassle or cost of parking. IF you are coming from the northern suburbs, take the Yellow or Purple lines to Howard on game days, then connect to the Red line.
The Addison Stop and Surrounding Neighborhood - via Flickr user Michael Lehet
After the game is especially crowded with a large number of people trying to leave in a hurry. Maybe stop by Sluggers Bar afterward for a cold one and a swing of the bat at their batting cages to let the crowds disperse.
If this is your first Cubs game I am not exaggerating; crowded may be an understatement. I will say that you should have no fear of getting lost or missing your stop if this is your first time, the crowd is large, draped in blue, and easy to follow.
One very cheap option is the Pace Bus. They have two bus shuttles, from either the Northwest Transportation Center in Schaumburg or from the Yorktown Center in Lombard to Wrigley. Park for free in their lots, and then your bus ticket is less than the price of a beer at the park.
Another option if you happen to be staying nearby is to avoid the crowded subway car and the stress of traffic and grab an Uber ride. If you've never used Uber, click here and get your first ride free.
Driving to a Cubs Game
Parking at Wrigley Field can be a nightmare. That is one of the disadvantages of being in a residential setting, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. The big problem if you are driving around residential streets is all of the confusing street signs and laws. I did stumble across a website that helps decode some of that and can assist you in finding free parking near Wrigley Field.
Another option worth mentioning is the ability to reserve a parking spot ahead of time. Parking Panda lets you do just that, and can provide some peace of mind if you don't feel like driving around in search of the best place to park.
Best Food At & Near Wrigley Field
Save Money on Food
Like many other stadiums, Wrigley Field allows you to bring your own food into the stadium. You can also bring sealed bottled water in a soft sided cooler if you would like. No glass or cans. That is a great way for a fan on a budget to save a few bucks at a Cubs game.
While your outside the park, spend some time in Wrigleyville. There are always hawkers selling cheap sausages and beer, and prices are better than inside the park.
Fans will enjoy checking out Merkle's Bar, named after the NY Giant who gave the 1908 pennant to the Cubs with his error rounding the bases.
Food at Wrigley Field that You Shouldn't Miss
Food at the park is underwhelming. Even the deep dish pizza, a Chicago staple, is unimpressive. Eat in Wrigleyville before you come in. If you must, though, stick with what Chicago does best: sausages and dogs.
1. Gilbert Craft Sausage: If you want to try a different approach to sausage, enjoy the creative and flavorful choices at Gilbert's. Toppings are diverse and global, and you can choose from beef, pork, and chicken.
Wrigley Hosts a Century of History - via Flickr user Mr Hicks46
2. Hot Doug's: for those in the bleachers, this Wrigley staple features dogs named after Cubs players of the past. Their selection rotates and utilizes fun flavor combinations, making each experience unique.
Cheap Cubs Tickets
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Cardinals, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier."
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
Wrigley Feels Like an Open Garden Amidst the City - via Flickr user Rex Hammock
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
2. Buy Last Minute
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
Best Value Seats at Wrigley Field
Cubs tickets are often difficult to get, simply because of the fact that they play in Wrigley. The fan base in Chicago is die-hard, they bleed Cubbie blue, and most games are packed to the rafters. Winning the 2016 World Series isn't going to help lower prices either.
Generally the toughest tickets are Opening Day, White Sox, Cardinals, and any weekends in the summer. If you are planning your first trip to Wrigley Field, remember that it gets very cold in the shade. I have been to games where people in the bleachers had their shirts off and people in the shade were wearing Snuggies. Wherever you end up in the stadium, find out if you will be in the sunshine and dress accordingly. They don't call it the "Windy City" for nothing!
The Bleachers are generally thought of as the cheap seats in most ballparks, but in Chicago that is far from true. You will pay a premium per seat in the bleachers, and they are almost always packed. The bleachers at Wrigley are famous for a reason, they provide a great atmosphere for watching a baseball game.
One thing worth mentioning; if you buy tickets in the bleachers you need to be scanned in and out in order to access the main part of the stadium (to do more exploring and walking around). You'll also need to enter through the bleacher gate in the outfield, not the main gate that you would if seated in the grandstands.
Sitting in the Bleachers is a Real Treat - via Flickr user Exile on Ontario St
Another thing about Wrigley field is the potential of obstructed views. Much like Fenway Park, the old stadiums have those big steel beams blocking the views of fans in the grandstand. Before you buy the tickets - ask. Places like SeatGeek or StubHub are usually pretty upfront about obstructed views
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that not all upper deck seats at Wrigley Field are created equal. I think that further down the line you go, the worse your view gets. I once sat almost all the way down the right field line and it was really uncomfortable, because the seats face straight ahead, and the view was just awful. At a lot of modern stadiums the great design has eliminated such a problem.
Where To Stay While Visiting Wrigley Field
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you usually can find places to stay that are within walking distance to Wrigley Field.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff At Wrigley Field
1. Statues of the Greats - Around the magnificent perimeter of Wrigley are statues to three Cubs greats. Find "Mr. Cub" himself, Ernie Banks, cast in bronze. On another corner, Billy Williams is honored for his fifty-two years of service to the ball club. And you cannot miss the statue of one of the game's greatest broadcasters, Harry Caray, frozen in time reaching his arm out to the crowd to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
The Voice of Caray Changed Baseball - via Flickr user Slippy Slappy
2. The Bartman Seat - before 2016, it seemed like the Cubs would never shake their World Series curse. Cubs fans bitterly remember the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins, when fan Steve Bartman grabbed a foul ball before the Cubs' left-fielder had the chance. The Cubs went on to lose the game, the pennant, and their best shot at a ring. Go spit on Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113 if you want to keep the curse at bay.