Cubs ownership has pumped what has to be well over a billion dollars into renovating Wrigley Field and reshaping the surrounding area into a comprehensive experience meant to
bilk entertain attendees. Whether it’s corporatized rooftops or themed restaurants, Wrigleyville has seen wholesale changes from what was once an area nearly as gritty as Ryan Theriot.
Perhaps that’s where the new “It’s Different Here” slogan came from. It’ll be even more different once the sparkling new sportsbook opens at the corner of Addison and Sheffield, though whether different and good are synonymous remains to be seen. The Cubs had better hope everything they continue to add and change works out, because the sentiment among fans has grown lukewarm.
According to Bookies.com, which has compiled a comprehensive list of the top MLB pregame destinations, the Cubs are not among the favorites. The list is based on an algorithm that takes four factors into account:
- Miles From City Center: Close to the action, accessible to fans
- Tailgating: The ability to park and enjoy a summer day with a beverage and grill.
- Entertainment Around Stadium: A vibrant bar and restaurant scene within walking distance to your seat.
- Family Sentiment: Is the area safe and entertaining for kids and those with kids?
Check out the image for more and stick around on the other side for some additional info on why the Cubs are all the way down at No. 20.
No MLB area ranked better for bars and entertainment, which was part of the bigger plan all along. The blocks surrounding Wrigley were already replete with watering holes, then the Ricketts family wrested control from rooftop owners and built the Hotel Zachary complex, new office/entertainment building, and Gallagher Way. Even with little cooperation from local government on street closures, the area is custom-built to extract money from those who enter its confines.
At the same time, however, no MLB team ranked worse for parking or tailgating, which is understandable because space is incredibly limited and partying in the sparse surface lots isn’t allowed. Wrigley was also dinged because it’s not close to the city center, though the fact that it’s in the middle of a neighborhood is a huge part of its charm.
The nail in the coffin on this ranking is that family visitors didn’t rank it very high, perhaps because taking four people to a game is more expensive than a car payment.
This all adds up to increased difficulty retaining season ticket holders and finding new ones from among a once-vaunted waiting list that was probably being inflated more than it should have been. Plenty of Opening Day tickets are still available, part of which is due to the experience being further hampered by cool temps and a chance of rain.
There’s nothing quite like a picturesque spring or summer afternoon at Wrigley with a beverage of your choice in one hand and a hot dog or maybe another beverage of your choice in the other. Thing is, ownership’s understanding of that concept may not factor in the quality of the product on the field.