Bar-gaiting Around Wrigley Field

Phillies fans outside Wrigley Field On a recent trip to Chicago, I learned a few things – beer tastes great at 10 AM, pizza can be eaten by fork and knife, and tailgating at Wrigley Field is a totally awesome experience.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard a million times about how great Wrigley is. The history, the charm, the friendly confines – yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. Well, after seeing it for myself, I can assure you – it is all completely true.

I was lucky enough to score some tickets to the Phils – Cubs series over Labor Day weekend. I was excited about checking out the stadium and seeing such a historical park, but a little reluctant about the pre- and post-gaming. Who wants to spend all their time in a crowded, touristy bar, paying for beers? Tailgating means parking lots, grills, and red plastic cups.

Or so I thought.

The bar scene at Wrigley is ridiculous. Every day, my friends and I would take the train to Wrigleyville with nothing but our wallets, cell phones, and Phillies hats. No planning, no packing. On the first day we found ourselves at an outdoor bar (Vines, if you’re keeping score at home) with a bunch of like-minded Phillies and Cubs fans. The place had a nice energetic crowd going, and so did every other bar I could see – it’s like the entire town is in on the party. I still don’t understand how the city of Chicago is able to function the night after a home game.

About five minutes before the game, after hanging out with friends and strangers alike, we pounded our last beers and sauntered across the street into the waiting arms of Wrigley Field. After the game, we simply sauntered back across the street into the waiting arms of the bar. The next day we did the same thing all over again (It’s an easy lifestyle to get used to).

Wrigley Field from the left field standsOn the third day, two out of our foursome had tickets. No big deal,the four of us went to another bar before the game and took part in that Chicago-style tailgating we were all getting so used to. While us non-ticket holders were a little jealous not going into the game, I’m pretty sure my two friends with tickets were a little jealous that they had to leave the bar. So they departed as we spent 9 innings at the bar drinking Old Style, making friends with strangers, and eating hot dogs.

Our table was right next to a large, open window. We felt like we were outside, but with the benefit of air conditioning. When the game ended, our two friends were back in the bar, picking up right where they left off, within fifteen minutes. Everything was so convenient.

Looking back, I don’t know if this bar tailgating scene is something I could keep up. The beers are certainly more expensive, and a large group of people would probably fall victim to lots of text messaging and splitting up.

But the convenience,my god the convenience. There is no need to spend the night before making a plan, no need to buy ice or load the car, no need to worry about paying for parking or finding a sober ride. And there is definitely a certain freedom that comes with being able to spontaneously go to any party you want at the drop of a hat.

Bar-gaiting (as I am now calling it) is something that might not be for everyone, but it is definitely for me,at least when I’m in Chicago.