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Battle of the Ballparks in Chicago May 2, 2008

Posted by Mongo in Baseball.
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I’m “borrowing” again from the Chicago Tribune for this article, as it’s interesting to baseball fans on both sides in Chicago.  At the bottom is a ranking/comparison of U.S. Cellular vs. Cleveland’s Progressive Park (#1 overall) and Wrigley Field vs. Milwaukee’s Miller Park (#2 overall, #1 in NL).  For the most part I agree with both articles & the rankings, but of course I have a few comments to share.  First and foremost, the articles are supposed to be about why this is your favorite ballpark, not ripping apart another one.  Listen, I love Steve Dahl and still enjoy his show, but in his opening comments (and then more shortly thereafter) he’s magnified the glaring weakness that affects most Sox fans – the inability to carry on a conversation about baseball without mentioning something derogatory about the Cubs.   I say “most” because there are a scant few that actually realize the Cubs are not their direct threat and worry more about Cleveland, Detroit & Minnesota.  So this is my message to the majority of Sox fans – get over it already.  You’re probably not going to be the most popular team in the Chicagoland area, ever, or at least in our lifetimes.  So what?  You’ve won a World Series in the recent past and have a contingency of loyal fans.  Be happy with the accomplishments, as the crazy bitterness reflects badly on both you as a fan and on your team.

I’ve been to the four ballparks mentioned numerous times and feel the rankings make sense.  Miller Park is truly a great place to see a ball game – excellent facilities, great food/drinks, easy in & out, and extremely family friendly.  Not much else around there, but it’s not in a horrible neighborhood either.  Progressive Park is absolutely outstanding on virtually all levels, and I’d actually bump them up a few notches on hospitality as I found the fans very friendly.  The Cell ranks higher than Wrigley (8 vs. 15) primarily due to the better facilities, is more family friendly and is definitely easier in terms of access (parking, etc.).  I think they rank the atmosphere there a bit higher than it should be, but I’m a bit biased.  On that note, there are few if any places that will beat Wrigley in terms of tradition, atmosphere, and the absolute fun of a great surrounding neighborhood.  Yes, some of us do actually go there to watch baseball though the extra partying certainly helps create a very fun event.  In regards to Fan IQ – funny!  Both are in the top third, but Sox rank #4 while Cubs rank #8.  What probably drags the Cubs down a bit are the thousands of people just there for the party…plus all the extra alcohol kills brain cells.

To give the Chicago Tribune credit – the original articles that follow can be found here, here, here and here.

Here’s why Wrigley Field is No. 1 to me
By Ron Santo
As told to Paul Sullivan
May 1, 2008

I can only go back to when I signed with the Chicago Cubs to give you an idea of how I feel about this ballpark. I’d been watching it on TV in Seattle, where I was born and raised, and there was always something about Wrigley Field that intrigued me.

When I got here, two years after my senior year, I’m walking out of the corner clubhouse with Ernie Banks and there’s nobody in the stands, and the feeling I had was unbelievable — walking with Ernie and walking on that grass. I felt like I was walking on air. There was an electricity and an atmosphere that I’d never experienced in my life. Any ballplayer that’s ever played here can tell you about that great atmosphere, and anybody who’s come here to watch a game feels the exact same way.

This, to me, is a ballpark that helps the fans relate to the players because of its intimacy. They’re right on top of you, and that’s special. You look at a ballpark like Wrigley that holds 41,000, and it’s packed every game, despite not having a team that’s gone to a World Series in most of their lifetimes. People just love to come here, and it’s a park you just love watching baseball in.

To me, it’s the No. 1 park, and I think if you went and asked all the players who played here back in my day, they’d say the same thing. It’s a hitters’ ballpark, and everybody gets that feeling that anything can happen today. Everywhere you go, you see it. Cubs fans never lose their allegiance, or their love, for Wrigley Field.

Will Wrigley still be here in 50 or 60 years? I don’t know that. I don’t have an answer. Heck, I never thought I’d ever see Wrigley Field with lights, but they’re here and they’re great.

But I’ve got to believe that when you look at Wrigley, you’re also talking about Wrigleyville. It’s all about leaving the ballpark after the game and going to the bars and restaurants. It’s one big happy family here, with nothing but parties. It’s a wonderful place, and absolutely the best ballpark in baseball.

Here’s why U.S. Cellular is No. 1 to me
By Steve Dahl
As told to Matt Lynch
May 1, 2008

There is so much to love about U.S .Cellular Field that it’s hard to know where to begin. It has plenty of parking, funnel cakes, urinals … what else could a baseball fan possibly need? Unlike its counterpart across town, the White Sox have kept up with all of the latest ballpark innovations. They have mastered the use of electronic scorekeeping. They have installed a JumboTron.

They have outfitted the bathrooms with the most up-to-date urinal technology available.

I always hear the “at least we fill up our park” refrain from Cubs fans, but that’s because we White Sox fans are more discriminating and only show up if the team is winning. Or if it’s half-price night.

Playing hardball like that spurred the team to make improvements that have really made a world of difference in the atmosphere, particularly changing the seats from a blinding bright blue to a more welcoming green and reconfiguring the upper deck.

U.S. Cellular has given my family numerous fond memories over the years. One of my favorites was watching Bo Jackson crush a home run during the team’s home opener in 1993 on his first swing. Bo had just made his amazing comeback from receiving an artificial hip. He dedicated the hit to his mother, who had passed away that spring.

We also watched the White Sox sweep their way to a World Series victory. Sharing the 2005 playoffs and World Series championship with my sons was definitely special for me. It was cold and wet, but extremely heartwarming.

The food at U.S. Cellular Field has also been a source of many memories. Most recently, I remember the 20 pounds of White Sox-related weight I put on last season, because I am still trying to lose them.

It’s that combination of funnel cake, ample parking and fond memories that keeps me coming back to the South Side when I need my baseball fix.

Also, did I mention they have urinals?

Top 10 is nice … but Cleveland rocks
May 1, 2008

Comparing the Cell to Cleveland’s Progressive Park, the former Jacobs Field, the No. 1-ranked venue in all of baseball.

The Cell Progressive
8 OVERALL RANKING 1
18 AFFORDABILITY 10
2 FOOD 6
17 TEAM QUALITY 3
15 TRADITION 6
8 ATMOSPHERE 2
4 FAN IQ 9
23 HOSPITALITY 19
4 PROMOTIONS 3
1 TRAFFIC 4
23 NEIGHBORHOOD 9

Old style no match for Milwaukee’s best
May 1, 2008

Comparing the North Side shrine to the No. 1-ranked venue in the National League (No. 2 overall), Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Wrigley Miller
15 OVERALL RANKING 2
27 AFFORDABILITY 2
22 FOOD 1
12 TEAM QUALITY 8
3 TRADITION 17
6 ATMOSPHERE 5
8 FAN IQ 10
24 HOSPITALITY 8
16 PROMOTIONS 1
23 TRAFFIC 3
2 NEIGHBORHOOD 18

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