By Doug Halberstadt
Last year during the baseball season, my daughter and I were fortunate to be the guests of Canterbury Tours on one of their chartered bus trips to Wrigley Field. We had a great time, and I chronicled the details of that trip in a column. It would be extremely unfair of me if I didn’t do the same for a trip I made this year to the other side of town to see the White Sox.
Saturday, April 20, I was invited by a good friend of mine to go with him into U.S. Cellular Field to watch the Sox take on the Minnesota Twins. He is part of a group that owns season tickets, and he said the tickets were on him. I graciously accepted his generous offer, and away we went.
While approaching the area near the park, I immediately noticed a stark contrast to the neighborhood around Wrigley. This area was far less congested. There weren’t bars, sporting goods stores and restaurants packed into every square inch of space available. It felt more comfortable.
There was also the added convenience of multiple parking lots to choose from. Instead of paying $50 or more to the pirates who operate in and around Wrigleyville, we paid a reasonable $20 fee to park our car in a secured lot that was within easy walking distance to the stadium.
Granted, U.S. Cellular Field is multiple decades newer than the venerable Wrigley; besides its youth, it’s just a much nicer ballpark all around. There are escalators that take you up to the higher levels. The concourse is bright, airy and modern. It didn’t give me the feeling of walking through catacombs like I get at Wrigley.
One other nice perk that accompanied his season ticket was that after five innings, we were allowed to move down to any open seats in the lower level. I can’t see this ever happening on the North Side. The Nazi-like crew they’ve hired to police the seats would never allow someone from the upper terrace box section to mix with the lower reserved grandstand crowd. That would be verboten in Wrigley.
Cubs fans have been sold a bill of goods throughout the years when it comes to the historic ballpark. The place is, indeed, historic, but it pales in comparison to modern-day stadiums for watching a game. Cubs fans should put down their blue Kool-Aid for an afternoon and make the trip over to the South Side and see what a 21st-century stadium looks like. It would be the closest thing to time travel there is.
For some unknown reason, Cubs fans are in love with the antique scoreboard. The hand-operated relic belongs in a museum, not in a functioning ballpark. The Sox have a beautiful electronic Jumbotron that not only shows pictures and stats of each player, replays from the game, it’s also capable of showing live pictures of fans enjoying themselves in the park — it really is a piece of modern-day high technology that enhances the total game experience.
There were a couple of similarities that both ballparks shared. The vendors at both venues seem to think that the main ingredient in their items is gold. The prices for food and drinks are ridiculously high whether you’re at Wrigley or U.S. Cellular. The other thing they had in common was neither team was able to win on the day I was there.
Despite the losses, I would gladly return to either locale. I just happen to think that the Sox have the better place to call home.
From the May 1-7, 2013, issue