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Fenway vs Wrigley

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 11, 2011

While this is relevant for only a few more weeks with baseball winding down, I wanted to compare two icons in the ballpark world, head to head. Neither disappointed in their visits and it was incredible to watch baseball games in both places. With my visits eight years apart (May 2003 for Fenway Park and September 2011 for Wrigley Field) there may have been some changes that I have yet to see, so some of this could be outdated. Let’s take a look at it all….Tale of the Tape style!


Location
Both are in fantastic locations. Boston’s Fenway section has several great bars and restaurants, while remaining close to downtown and other attractions. However, there is just something about Wrigleyville. The area in the Northside of Chicago is neighborhood and doesn’t offer much more than food and drink. But those food and drink establishments on Clark and Sheffield are incredible and impossible to replicate.
………Edge to Wrigley

a
Accessibility/Parking

Both kind of suck. The terrific locations lead to each ballpark being a pain to get to. It’s not that the accessibility is bad, its just that it is highly recommended not to drive with parking scarce and traffic crazy. That means public transit is the best way to get there. Conveniently, there are stops nearby. Wrigley is probably the easiest with the Red Line on the El dropping you off right at the stadium. That line is also easy to use from downtown. Boston’s T (subway) is fine as well, but there’s a little bit of a walk from the nearby Kenmore station and there’s a higher likelihood you have to do some transferring somewhere.
………Slight edge to Wrigley

a
Exterior
I like Boston’s brick facade a little bit better as opposed to the Cubs’ mainly white front. But one of the most known Marquee’s in the world is the red one in the front of Wrigley. They also push themselves ahead slightly with the four new statues at all the surrounding gates.
………Edge to Wrigley

a
Concourse
This is where my memory fails a little bit as back in 2003, I never wrote much about the concourses when I was doing reviews. Both are expectedly tight given the age of the ballparks. Also, each have some nuances to honor the team and stadium.
………Even

a
Food
Wrigley’s food used to be notoriously bad, however that has been improved lately. I like seeing foods available unique to the region and they have done that in Chicago with their style of hot dog and version of Italian Beef. But, I am still freaked out by this report. Boston does a great job with the specials too as you have Fenway Franks, Lobster Rolls and New England Clam Chowder. Looking at their concessions guide, a lot has been added since 2003. Still hard to beat a nice, hot clam chowdah on a crisp Fall night.
………Edge to Fenway

a
Cost
Not surprisingly, they are both expensive. According to the Fan Cost Index from Team Marketing Report, Boston was ranked #1 in terms of most expensive, while the Cubs were #4. The difference between ticket prices between the two teams are negligible however as many of the averaged prices seats are in that $40-$60 range. Parking and concessions are high too, but similar.
………Even

a
Interior
Completely unique and unlike anything around now in MLB. I love both of them. In Wrigley, you have two decks of seating, with some oddities in the back of the lower bowl as your view is obstructed by both support beams and the overhang of the upper deck. The bleachers, ivy and rooftop seats set the stadium apart. In Boston, most of the seating is found in the lower deck and I just like this whole design better, even though the seats are totally cramped. I enjoy the quirky design just a bit more. The Green Monster of course is Boston’s famed icon.
………Slight Edge to Fenway

a
Scoreboard
Wrigley Field’s scoreboard in Center Field is more representative of the old ballpark. Green and mostly hand-operated, it is a nostalgic board. I can deal with no video, but I do have a couple gripes (why is the Cubs score buried and not the center of attention on the scoreboard?). Meanwhile, I love everything about Boston’s. You have the classic, wonderful hand-operated board at the bottom of the Green Monster, complete with Boston’s game score details, AL East Standings and out-of-town scores. Yet, it still looks like it did in the early 1900s. Separately in another part of the outfield, they have a sharp video board that is done appropriately and adds to the fan experience.
………Edge to Fenway

a
Banners
Flags are the big thing out in Chicago as they are all over Wrigley Field. From pennants and players to accomplishments and standings, they proudly are displayed on the interior walls and out in the scoreboard. I just wish the color scheme of the pennants would make sense (there is no pattern on why some are red, white and blue). Fenway does a nice job too, with the numbers of retirees out on a upper-left field wall and the pennants (with year AND honor) on the press box above the seating bowl. This is mostly a push, but the very slight edge goes to Wrigley, thanks to the “W” flag that flies after wins
………Slight edge to Wrigley

a
Fan Support
Off the top of my head, I would definitely say even as both have large and intensely rabid fan bases. But, if you look at this a little more in-depthly, I believe its Boston. Just about everybody who is from Boston, roots for Boston. You can’t say the same for Chicago as the White Sox have a big following and most in the Southern half of the city are White Sox fans. In addition, the Red Sox are a regional team as Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and parts of Connecticut are a big part of Red Sox Nation. If you look at the surrounding states for the Cubs, Wisconsin has Milwaukee and Missouri/Southern Illinois is St. Louis territory. Plus, I’m sure you have other chunks of Illinois that root for the White Sox.
………Slight edge to Fenway

a
Atmosphere
Wrigley Field is unlike any professional venue. There is hardly any pop music (its mainly organ), no cheerleaders, no between-innings contests. It is baseball and sports in its purest, early 20th Century form and it is incredibly awesome. Along with other traditions (like the 7th inning stretch and the bleacher bums), the atmosphere is great. But right now its missing something with the Cubs playing so poorly: fan noise and buzz. Boston has that. You hardly ever find an empty seat at Fenway (meanwhile, the game in Wrigley I went to had many sections completely empty). The crowd is always buzzing there and explodes after a big play. If the Cubs come back and play well, I’m sure that ballpark will rock, but right now I’d prefer to see a game in Boston where the atmosphere can and often is electrifying.
………Slight edge to Fenway

a
My Gut
Both are amazing, but if I had to pick only one venue to sit in for a game…I’d go with Fenway
………Slight edge to Fenway

a
Final Result
Let’s add them up! One point for a slight edge, Two points for an edge and Three points for a big edge. The head-to-head comparison is listed below, while my Total Experience Ranking from each game I reviewed is below. Both agree with my gut preference. Whichever one you prefer, do yourself a favor and check out these near 100 year old icons!
        Head to Head Final:                        Fenway 8-6
        Total Experience Ranking Final:    Fenway 80-78     


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