As the 2017 baseball season gets underway this weekend, we sum up what you need to know before attending a Cubs game at the Friendly Confines.
The Cubs weren’t too busy editing their roster this offseason, but were active on the homefront, changing up the genetic makeup of Wrigleyville.
The latest installment of the Wrigley renovation saga is the addition of a massive new plaza connected to the west side of the stadium, initially titled “The Park at Wrigley Field.” This 50,000 square foot monstrosity will be open every day regardless of whether or not the Cubs play, but will only be accessible to ticket-holders on the days that they do.
Despite its attachment to the field, The Park isn’t merely for baseball purposes. Sure, it has a trophy room for the sole purpose of letting fans take pictures with the Cubs’ World Series trophy. Sure, there’s an 8,400 square foot store dedicated to Cubs merchandise with a bar where you can design your own memorabilia. There’s even a massive screen viewable to anyone in the vicinity. But the plaza will also play host to a farmers market on non-game-day Thursdays and run six different movie nights throughout 2017, kicking off with a showing of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on June 14, among other miscellaneous events distributed throughout the year.
The construction of the plaza included the addition of a new entrance gate nearby, if you’re looking for a new angle to enter games from.
Wrigley’ exterior isn’t the only aspect that’s different; if attending a game, you might be surprised to see that the bullpens are no longer in foul territory. Indeed, the pens were moved underneath the bleachers, meaning that, no, we won’t get any more bullpen shenanigans related to foul balls hit in their direction.
(As many of you know, the Cubs’ 2016 pen refused to move if a foul ball was hit towards them, eventually resulting in a sharp grounder bouncing off of Travis Wood’s knee.)
This also means that fans can no longer enjoy close proximity to the bullpens, terminating fan and player interaction, be it positive or negative.
The shift was explicitly meant for player safety (it’s kinda dangerous to have giant mounds of dirt in the field of play), but it also increases club revenue as the move allows for a few extra rows of (incredibly expensive) seats.
Further, Wrigley now includes two new restaurants: Starbucks and Pork and Mindy’s, which will be located in the bleachers.
The last new feature, but certainly not the least, is that the Cubs will commemorate last season by hoisting a World Champions flag during their home opener on April 10.
In terms of parking, expect some rocketing prices. With high demand comes high costs. The Cubs do have parking lots available, but the main ones require a season parking pass. You can park at 3900 Rockwell, however, where you can take a free shuttle ride to and from the game. If you’re going to a weekday day game, unfortunately, this service is unavailable. My recommendation is to arrive early, find a spot a mile or two away from the stadium, and walk. The CTA’s red line also provides a direct service to Wrigley, if driving isn’t your thing.
If you don’t have a ticket and you still want to be in the area for a home game, simply stroll up and down Clark, Addison, Waveland, or Sheffield; there is a plethora of bars and restaurants showing the game inside.
Whatever way you take home games in, be prepared for a whole lot of winning on the North Side this year.