Updated: May 21, 2015
Wrigley Field Tours:I am not the biggest baseball fan in the world but I have followed Major League Baseball for years and know top players and teams. On a recent trip to Chicago (September 2011) I wanted to get up to Wrigley Field and check out the surrounding area. I didn't realize they gave tours of the ballpark and when I found that out I reserved a spot. The tours of Wrigley Field are offered at various times throughout the day and cost $25. You get access to areas that are off limits to normal visitors. You start the tour at the front of the stadium and enter into the confines with your guide. We had about 25 people on the tour with us. You get taken to sit in the lower section behind homeplate so you get a great perspective of the entire ballpark. It's a little odd sitting in a stadium when it's completely empty, but the feeling was definitely memorable. The next stop is up above in the higher reaches of Wrigley as you make your way to the press boxes. Our guide showed us where the organ player sits, the staff, and the press.
From way up you realize that Wrigley Field is lacking many of the technological advances that modern stadiums have - things like jumbotrons or big video screens. Even the scoreboard in center field is manually operated during the games. It's a throwback ballpark and one that I'm glad I visited. After the press boxes, we made our way down below the main level and into the visiting clubhouse. Nothing fancy, but nostalgic knowing all the famous people that have been in there. The guide told plenty of stories about Wrigley as we walked around and you can ask questions at any time. When we headed out to the bleachers you could see all the surrounding buildings to the ballpark that have added their own bleacher seats over the years to their rooftops. Wrigley Rooftops is a website that offers tickets that aren't technically in the ballpark but where you can watch the game nonetheless. Great for corporate events, bachelor parties, etc. The bleacher seats are not covered and open to all the elements. We were able to sit down, get pictures taken, and ask questions. Looking back towards homeplate you realize how small the stadium is and how cozy Wrigley really is. I hope it doesn't change in the future because it offers so many unique aspects. They don't have huge bullpens or corporate sponsors all over the field. It's almost like the field is just the way it was created back in 1914. The final stops on the tour were the Chicago Cubs locker room and the dugout. The locker room was not fully accessible as we were stopped about 10 feet in. We saw a few lockers with jerseys hung up and you could look down to see the other players spots in the distance. Supposedly there are days where they let you in further. Just depends on what is going on. As we left the locker room, you walk down a corridor that eventually leads to the Cubs dugout - very cool atmosphere walking out. We were allowed onto the dirt that leads from the dugout to the practice batting circle and the photo opportunities from here are excellent so have your camera ready. The tours take place rain or shine and last about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are bathrooms along the way but no food or drink available. You can reserve your tour in advance but we just walked up the day of and got ours. If you are a fan of baseball, nostalgic ballparks, or just history, then we highly recommend the Wrigley Field tours for $25. Check out their website for tour information at http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ballpark/tours/index.jsp?content=daily.
Wrigley Field History:Just some quick history on Wrigley. The ballpark was originally built in 1914 and named Weegham Park for the Federal League baseball team called the Chicago Whales. The name changed over to Cubs Park from 1920-26, and then permanently went to Wrigley Field after that. The field has been used to host Chicago Bears games (1921 to 1970) and even a recent outdoor NHL game. The ivy covered outfield walls are a signature of this ballpark and the seating capacity is not big by any means at just over 41,000. The hand turned scoreboard may never change (similar to that at Fenway Park in Boston) and lights were only added to the stadium after the league threatened to not allow Wrigley to host post-season games. It's rare to see a night game at Wrigley.
Getting to Wrigley Field on the Red Line:We didn't attend a game, so I can't say how crowded things are on a normal game day at Wrigley. We took the Red Line from downtown Chicago and got off at the very convenient Addison stop. You literally walk down the exit ramp and are a block from the field. Parking we heard is difficult in this neighborhood as the ballpark is not in an industrial area of town where there would be ample parking. The tour guide told us that they Cubs recommend people taking public transportation or biking to the stadium. As a tourist, the L train is simple and easy to do, and with fares at about $2.25 each way, it's very affordable. Be sure to check out the local shops and restaurants that surround Wrigley as this is part of the ambiance.
|Famous red sign in front of the ballpark.
|Inner walkways when no one is around. Pretty special.
|Behind homeplate looking out towards center field and the manual scoreboard.
|From the bleachers in right-center field looking back towards homeplate.
|Clubhouse locker of Matt Garza and Casey Coleman. Not sure who punched the hole in the wall?
|The Cubs dugout ....