Pre-game festivities on Opening Day from Section 313
If you're like us, you were really looking forward to the official start of baseball. Unbelievably, it was Pronk's first Opening Day at Wrigley and he considers it one of his top 5 Cubs experiences!
Going to Wrigley in the spring is a mixed bag as far as weather is concerned. Opening Day 2023 was as nice it could be (40's, dry, partly sunny, slightly breezy but not freezing). My favorite seats are in the 300 section where you have unobstructed views and great fly ball tracking (but watch out for foul balls!). However, the difference in weather between both sections of the Upper deck, the concourse behind the seats and street level can feel like a 20 degree swing.
Map courtesy of Cubs.com
I want to go to a spring game! Where should I sit when I visit but don't want to freeze? This mostly applies to day games, but seats in the sun are in the Bleachers or from Home Plate to the right field line and in front of Row 5 (ish) in the 200 section. Conversely, avoid those seats in the summer if you are sun-averse or you want to be under the canopy. The Upper Deck will be colder than seats below, esp in the 400 section, where the wind comes thru the fence in the nosebleeds. What if it rains? Look for seats in the Terrace Box or Upper Box Infield from about row 5 on up. During night games, bring a blanket and some hand warmers!
It's freezing cold and I need to warm up! Where do I go? If you're in the Upper Deck, go to the Concourse in the back. If the sun is out, it will feel like summer and you're at the beach, cause that's where half your seat mates are. If you're in the 200 section, head to the patio facing Gallagher Way.
What's new at Wrigley this season? If you are there for Opening Weekend, there is a pop-up of the Billy Goat Tavern inside the Marquee entrance with staff yelling "cheese-borgers" and "Coke, no Pepsi!", in a nod to the ballpark returning to a Coke stadium (hurray!).
The World Series trophy seems to have found a permanent home inside the park. To the left of the Marquee entrance, there is a room opposite the concessions where there is a queue to have your picture taken with the trophy. The Trophy moved around so much in the last few years that it's nice it's in one spot for people to enjoy.
Photo courtesy of the Chicago Cubs. It was so crowded I couldn't get a decent one of my own
Most exciting for beer drinkers this year? Beer bats! 26 oz of draft beer available to purchase in different concession stands around the stadium. It's probably a health code thing but it's too bad you can't get refills.
Also they don't stand up, so get creative on how to hold onto them. Earlier, Pronk stuck his in the fencing in the nosebleeds and later, I took possession (and almost didn't want to give it back. ha).
As for food, the Concourse concession stands in the Upper Deck seemed to still be in Spring Training mode (running out of brats and buns, still cold hot dogs). I would recommend getting there early to beat the crowds. Last season, they started self-checkouts at the concession stands, which doesn't seem to be really efficient. I've stood in line for nearly a whole inning just getting ice cream. With the new pitch clock rules, you can miss a whole lot of the game just getting food!
Pronk went missing for an inning + and found this new unappetizing looking concoction called the Burger Brat. It's exactly what it is.
Speaking of the new pitch clock, the entire game was finished in 2 hours, 21 minutes. I'm sure it's great when you are watching at home, but it felt TOO fast when you're watching in person. It's time for the 7th inning stretch already?? Sneeze and it'll feel like you missed something. On the other hand, it got us out of the cold sooner and the shorter game times will make night games more bearable.
All in all it was an enjoyable afternoon, capped off with a 4-0 Cubs win!
Notes from Pronk!
As Teener said, this was a great experience for me. I've never been able to flexibly get off work or find tickets cheap enough to make it. The whole day, I was in an unshakably good mood.
I agree mostly with what she had to say on her game experience, but wanted to chime in with a few thoughts.
It was $30, and not refillable. Worth it, but the caveats made it a one time thing. After I got it, I cheers'd everyone else who had one as I made it to my seat. Please note it cannot stand on it's own. I also saw a dude with one filled with red slushie. Next time...
I was not a fan of the pitch clock pace before Opening Day. I hate it now. The in-person game experience went by too fast. I got up in the 3rd inning for food, and didn't get back until the 5th. Yes, I missed all the scoring. Of course part of that was the lines as tech issues combined with staff's first day at the game (which I can totally forgive). I got up in the 7th to get a drink, thinking it was the 6th, realizing I missed last call, and then I missed the 7th inning stretch. Basically, I saw only an hour and a half worth of baseball.
I think it is too rushed and too fast. If I want to watch The Show skipping dead space or MLB.tv expedited games, then I'll do that.
The food options we got that day were all fantastic. Wrigley Field food has come a long way since I was a kid.
Wrigley Field Atmosphere:
I know it's hip to complain about #cheapricketts, but the family has done a near flawless job renovating Wrigley into a modern stadium that retains the 100+ year old charm. More bathrooms, more concessions, and more stairs/access points make the stadium logistics less of a slog. Gallagher Way is cool to be at, even during a game. All of the concerns I had about eyesore video boards and the like are gone. Wrigley Field now has modern stadium amenities and features I've come to expect, while still retaining the old school magic. Well done!