Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is by far my favorite ballpark. Everyone knows its charms: the ivy-strewn walls, the hand-operated scoreboard, its intimacy, the 100 years of Cubs ineptitude, etc.
I especially love the way the ballpark is settled into the urban fabric of Chicago's northside. It doesn't overwhelm the neighborhood but is part of it. Although it owns its name as a "field" it is truly an urban ballpark, with downtown Chicago peeking over the right field fence and apartment buildings providing vantage points over centerfield. The el rumbles by during the game and fans fill the bars and restaurants of Wrigley-ville before and after the game. Rural meets city, men play a boys game, and the fan isn't assaulted with crazy fireworks, loud video commercials or post-modern theme park entertainment features. I have a friend who lived in Wrigleyville and his kitchen window was situated so that he could see the ballpark clock from his table and that is what he used as his kitchen clock. That is the definition of an urban ballpark.
I've gone to occasional games at Wrigley since the early 80's, before they became trendy. The first game I went to we bought tickets the day of the game in the lower level along the 3rd base line. For about 10 bucks if I remember. It was a glorious May afternoon and the sun was shining and the Cubs, of course, were losing. I remember ordering my first beer and the beer guy doesn't pull out a $8.00 beer in a plastic bottle. No he pulls out an ice cold 16 ounce can of Budweiser, cracks it open right in front of me and pours it into a paper cup and hands it to me. "That'll be $2.50." I was smitten.
Now that was over 25 years ago and there are lights at Wrigley, those tickets I sat in are probably $75.00 and you have to buy them months in advance. But the park retains its charms. The ivy is still bare in the spring and green in the summer. Kids scramble up down Waveland to catch a home run ball, and there still is hardly a bad seat in the house.
The Twins play the Cubs in Wrigley this summer and I am planning to go. Hopefully someday I will have the same feelings for Target Field.