Wrigley Field Tour

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Second only to Boston’s Fenway Park as the oldest operational major league ballpark in the U.S., Wrigley Field is a true piece of baseball history. Daily tours are offered during the months of April to September in the famed Lake View District of Chicago’s North Side and allow fans an unprecedented insider’s peek into the magic of the game and one of its oldest franchises.

History

The history of Wrigley Field is almost as old as major league baseball itself. As the second-oldest major league stadium, Wrigley represents the essence of the American baseball story as well as some of the best parts of the building of Chicago.

The land upon which Wrigley sits between Addison, Clark, Sheffield, and Waveland Streets is in what is known as the Lake View District of the city, on its north side. Originally home to the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, the land was sold in 1909 as the areas in the North Side were built up, disturbing the former peaceful atmosphere of the land. The buyers were three American Association (AA) team owners by the names of Charles Havenor and Joe and Mike Cantillion. These men were interested in starting a third professional baseball league in the Chicago market to compete with the White Sox and Cubs.

This plan was never to be, however, and Havenor sold his interest in the land to real estate investor named Edmund Archambault. Then, in the fall of 1913, Archambault and the Cantillions signed a 99 year lease with Charles Weeghman, president of the Federal League, whose similar deigns on the professional baseball market led them to look for a new, purpose-built location for their team, the Chicago Chifeds. Construction on the new stadium began in December 1913 and opened officially under the name Weeghman Park on 23 April 1914.

The park was quite modern and made of steel and concrete. It featured a single-deck grandstand that ran from left field all the way around, past home plate, to right field. A small press box was located on the top of the grandstand behind home. Its total seating capacity was 14,000, though there was ample room for standing guests. After their first season, a few minor tweaks by Weeghman along with a name change for the franchise, they were now the Chicago Whales, made Weeghman Park the favorite spot for viewing live ball in Chicago. When the Federal League failed at the end of the 1915 season, Weeghman was given the opportunity to buy the Chicago Cubs, catapulting him and his park into the books of professional baseball forever.

The Cubs’ first official game their new (and permanent) home took place on 20 April 1916 against the Cincinnati Reds. Over time, Weeghman’s interest in the Cubs was challenged because of his economic struggles off the field. Other minor investors were brought in, one of which was chewing gum magnate William Wrigley. As Weeghman’s interest plummeted, Wrigley’s only grew. Weeghman finally stepped down as club president in 1918 and complete control of the Cubs was in Wrigley’s hands by 1921 and would pass down among the family for 60 more years.

The original name of the park gradually changed over to Cubs Park with the resignation of Weeghman and then, following several major renovation projects, eternally named Wrigley Field in 1927. Several renovations to Wrigley Field slowly transformed it into the icon that it is today. First, in 1922, Wrigley financed an expansion that elevated seating capacity to roughly 31,000. In 1926, the average game attendance of 90,000 fans necessitated the construction of a second tier for the grandstands. Bleachers were added in 1937 and lights first attempted in 1941, though the outbreak of WWII halted that effort.

Lights were avoided for a long time at Wrigley Field due to a number of reasons championed by the Wrigley Family. However, they were added for good in 1988 following the 1981 acquisition of the team by the Chicago Tribune Company. Then, the bleachers were expanded and renovated between 2005 and 2006 and the turf replaced between the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Main Attraction

The Wrigley Field tour is offered daily between the months of April and September with weekend options available in March. There are two tour versions during the regular baseball season: Game Day and non-Game Day. The former is an abbreviated version of the longer, 90 minute tour which excludes a trip to the Clubhouse. Both tour options feature behind-the-scenes information about the 100 year+ history of Wrigley Field as well as visiting the press box, bleachers, seating bowl, luxury seats, dugouts, and field.

Group tour rates as well as specialized VIP tours are also available. The tours run rain or shine and include about 1 mile of walking total. ADA accommodations are available, but disabled guests may not have access to all areas of the tour. Up to four tours are conducted daily and pricing is based on a flat fee for all guests ages 3 and up.

Why It’s a Must-See

Wrigley Field is truly a unique part of baseball history. Its roots stretch back to the beginning of professional baseball itself and spread all the way to the modern era of the game. Seeing Wrigley in all its glory on Game Day may be one way to partake in this history, but seeing it behind-the-scenes as players do is quite another and is a chance that any baseball lover visiting Chicago should not soon miss.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

1. Purchase a ticket from Wrigley Field when you get there.

Wrigley Field