Baseball season is upon us and whether you are raising a White Sox fan or diehard Cubbie, your family will have a blast at the ballpark. In honor of peanuts, Cracker Jacks and home run fun, we cover the bases and compare Wrigley Field to Guaranteed Rate Field. Which is more family friendly? Read on and root, root, root.
photo: GPMTZ on Flickr
First Base: History of the Ballparks
Wrigley Field: Few stadiums in the world conjure the nostalgia of Wrigley. From Babe Ruth calling his shot to Harry Caray getting the crowds riled up to Ferris Bueller catching a foul ball, a lot of big moments have happened inside The Friendly Confines. Built in 1914 and originally known as Weeghman Park, the stadium is homey and old school (it still uses its original hand-flipped scoreboard).
Guaranteed Rate Field: Not to be out done, the White Sox have called Chicago home for 114 years. The Sox first played on the 39th Street Grounds before settling in Armour Square at Comiskey Park for 81 years. A new neighboring park opened in 1991 and was renamed U.S. Cellular Field in 2003 and then Guaranteed Rate Field in 2016. The stadium — and its team — has evolved with the times. Yet there are nods to the past, most notably the “exploding scoreboard,” which shoots off fireworks and is inspired by the original built in 1960. This season, South Siders are gearing up for a season filled with family-friendly activities, fireworks and victories.
Winner for Historic Charm: Wrigley Field!
photo: courtesy of Chicago White Sox
Second Base: Getting There & Nabbing Good Seats
Wrigley Field: Save yourself parking costs and hassle and take public transportation to Wrigley Field. The Red Line drops fans off right outside the ballpark at the Addison stop and there is also a bike valet at the field. If you do drive, try the free remote parking (available for 1,000 vehicles) at 3900 N. Rockwell St. and take the complimentary shuttle service to and from the park. The seats are great no matter where you sit in the park, but for the cheapest option, go for the upper deck box seats. (Bonus: The seats in this section are covered in case of rain or snow.)
Guaranteed Rate Field: Getting to Guaranteed Rate Field is also easy with public transit. The Red Line drops fans off right at the ballpark at the Sox/35th stop and Metra’s Rock Island station is just a few blocks away. In addition, there are tons of parking lots for people making the drive. In terms of affordable seats, Guaranteed Rate Field offers seats in the upper deck corners for just $7, while seats in the lower deck corners are $20.
Winner for Ease & Affordability: Guaranteed Rate Field
Third Base: Family Fun – Beyond the Game
Wrigley Field: Want to meet a new friend? Clark, the Cubs bear-cub mascot, invites kids to join his club. Members get fast-pass privileges during Kids Run the Bases on select Sunday games and one complimentary game ticket per season. The Kids Corral, located behind home plate, will be the place for members of Clark’s Crew to gather, say “hello” to the big furry guy and participate in baseball-related activities. Another source of family fun at Wrigley is the 7th inning stretch; it’s always a big surprise to find out who will be singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. You’ll love the chow, too. The popular Chef Series is returning this June, where big names in the culinary world dish up their take on ballpark fare.
Guaranteed Rate Field: School the kids in baseball off the field in the XFinity Kids Zone area, which includes a youth-sized wiffle ball diamond for coaching clinics, batting and pitching cages, areas for base running and more. The area is located above the left-field concourse and opens with the gates and remains open throughout the game. Also, no visit to Guaranteed Rate Field would be complete without a Southpaw sighting; he’s at every game! Southpaw and the pride crew lead the crowd in singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch. If that’s not dazzling enough, fireworks will light up the sky over Guaranteed Rate Field on more than 10 different occasions this year and there are multiple kid-friendly events scheduled throughout the season. Click here for the schedule. And don’t forget the food: Choose from pizza, brats, veggie burgers, cheese quesadillas and Chicago-style hot dogs.
Winner for Family Fun & Games: Guaranteed Rate Field!
photo: anjanettew on Flickr
Home Plate: Family Days & Other Perks
Wrigley Field: Getting to Wrigley early pays off big for young Cubs fans. The gates open two-hours before the opening pitch and passes to the Kids Corral can be picked up at that time at Will Call, after you’ve coordinated with a Kids Corral rep to schedule the date. Kids Corral passes allow you to watch batting practice from behind home plate, score autographs from your favorite players and run the bases after games on Sunday. In addition, food and non-alcoholic beverages are 25% off for the first hour the park is open. On Family Sundays (Sunday day games), Clark’s Crew members who show their ID card get to run the bases following the game.
Guaranteed Rate Field: Sunday home games at Guaranteed Rate Field are Family Sundays, sponsored by Coca Cola. On those special days, take advantage of seats priced as low as $5 in the upper section and as low as $15 in the lower section. Also, parking is discounted to $10. Take advantage of the free pregame autograph sessions and, after the game, kids run the bases for free.
Winner for Family Days: Wrigley Field!
And the overall winner is … it’s a tie! (C’mon, you really didn’t expect us to pick one over the other, did you?) And one last thing to remember when you head to the ballparks this season: Both teams’ guest services areas offer free “First Game Certificates” to fans attending their first game. Now, play ball!
Are you a Cubs or Sox family? Let us know in the Comments!
— Maria Chambers & Lara Compton