Kurt Smith publishes a series of ballpark guides, and e-guides, that exhaustively cover how to get to the parks, ticket and seating options, food choices, the kinds of fans to expect, restrooms (especially important concerning the Wrigley Field men's rooms!) and other issues facing first-time, or even frequent, visitors. All of the guides are available at the e-guides' website: http://www.ballparkeguides.com/. He currently offers guides for 16 ballparks. Prices are: $7.99 for the print version; $4.99 for the e-guide version, which arrives as a PDF. The e-guide is free if you purchase the print version.
We're going to take a look at Smith's Wrigley Field guide here.
There has been a lot of press lately about how Wrigley Field is the greatest ballpark in the majors, if not the greatest single location on the planet anyone could ever be ever.
Check out Lonely Planet's list of the Top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2014. Our Addison and Clark landmark helps Chicago make number 8 -- the only American city in the bunch. And USA Today's series on ballparks penned by Joe Mock of ballparks.com, as covered by MLB.com, puts Wrigley Field at the top of the list of the best.
The Cubs have a whole slate of events planned to mark next season's 100th Anniversary of the opening of Wrigley Field, previewed in this Cubs Press Release. Thus, whether or not the Cubs are any good, and there's no reason to think they will be, we can expect a significant bump in attendance as fans and tourists from around the world flock to the ballpark to celebrate.
Also, this will be the last season, probably, before a Jumbotron and other abominations significantly alter the historic look of both the inside and outside of the park, so you can bet there are lots of ballpark aficionados out there who look at 2014 as their last chance to see Wrigley Field before the "renovations."
For all of the expected hordes of tourists who are making plans to visit Chicago and Wrigley Field next year, I must recommend Smith's excellent, very detailed guide to Wrigley Field as an indispensable tool for navigating the ticket-buying process (which can be very confusing at Wrigley Field), the ballpark and its home city. And during this season of cyber shopping, it would make a perfect e-gift for the Cub fan on your list, especially if that fan is from out of town and considering a visit to the North Side.
The e-guide is structured very simply with main chapter headings and internal links directing you to the section of most interest to you. After a brief introduction and welcome, readers can use the Table of Contents or left sidebar links to quickly go to Tickets and Seating, Getting There, Food and Drink, About Wrigleyville, Extras, and Vital Information. Those sections are then subdivided so the reader can zero in on specific details.
Smith maintains the e-guides with continual updates, so you can be confident that the information in your version is current.
The Tickets and Seating section seems very thorough, so the out-of-towner should pay close attention to the details. My only issue with Smith's seating coverage is that he doesn't recommend standing room, which is one of our favorite ways to watch a game. Smith and I have exchanged emails about this -- he is very open to opinions and contributions from fans -- and I have supplied a couple of images taken from our favorite SRO spot. You may see the shots when you purchase your Wrigley Field e-guide!
Getting There covers CTA, Metra, Pace, and AMTRAK very well. Driving and parking are given a pretty thorough treatment. We have our own driving and parking "secrets, but if I told you them they wouldn't be secrets anymore!
The food section gives you a complete rundown of the meager Wrigley Field choices. Our only suggestion? -- stop by Jason's beer stand at the top of Aisle 206. He's a great guy and his draft Old Style is cheaper than the cans the walking vendors sell! And he has some foreign beers in 16-ounce cans. Plus big pretzels.
There are some errors, but they are mistakes a non-Chicagoan could easily make (and many Chicagoans sometimes make themselves) and in no way detract from the overall accuracy and completeness of the guide.
At the end Smith covers intangibles like the fans and the neighborhood, and supplies a very comprehensive list of links and phone numbers to make your Wrigley Field planning very easy.
So on Cyber Monday, or any cyber day, buy your favorite Cub fan a couple of tickets, and add the Wrigley Field guide as an extra surprise. Besides being incredibly informative, it's fun to peruse and read. My favorite quote? Here you go ...
Wrigley Field is baseball, in every sense of the word, now, ever, and always. Green seats, open air, elevated trains rolling in carrying thousands of enthusiastic fans. Scalpers everywhere, seats on nearby rooftops, kids—adults even—chasing batting practice home run balls on adjacent streets. A hand operated scoreboard, bleacher crazies, hot dogs on poppy seed buns. A striking and unique ivy-covered brick outfield wall. No one here wants or needs loud music or a Jumbotron, and such affronts to the game would look ridiculous at this shrine anyway.
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