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The Cubs were away last week but Wrigley Field was anything but quiet

A busy road trip and All-Star Break for the nice little park on the North Side.

Gallagher Way is packed for a showing of Home Alone
Sara Sanchez

When the Cubs developed the park outside of Wrigley Field now known as Gallagher Way they envisioned a sort of town square to bring people to one of the most iconic baseball parks in America even when there weren’t games. As a resident of Wrigleyville I’ve gotten to see this park develop and host different events and have documented a lot of those here. It’s been a blast and during the Cubs’ last road trip the activity around the park exceeded my expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as anyone to get back into Wrigley Field for some baseball this week as the Cubs face their arch rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, but it’s worth taking a look at some of the activities that fans can enjoy at the ballpark when the Cubs are away.

Movie Night

Movie Night at Gallagher Way was advertised early on in the Park’s existence. It is exactly what it sounds like: a free movie shown on the big screen outside of the ballpark, families on the lawn, the Gallagher Way concession stands open for purchasing snacks and beverages. This has really taken off in the neighborhood as you can see from the cover picture, below is an alternate view with the screen:

Home Alone Viewing Gallagher Way
Sara Sanchez

Home Alone isn’t even close to one of my favorite movies, I’ve channel surfed right past it more times than I can count from my couch, but this scene mesmerized me. I wound up hanging out at Gallagher Way with a few hundred people enjoying the movie. I’ll definitely be back for future shows. You can bring your own lawn chair or rent one there. The remaining calendar includes:

  • July 18: Twister
  • August 8: Grease
  • August 22: Space Jam
  • September 5: Top Gun
  • September 19: Back to the Future

Jimmy Buffett Concert

Jimmy Buffett on the screen at Gallagher Way
Sara Sanchez

Jimmy Buffett returned to Wrigley Field and I attended with a few friends. It was my first time at a Jimmy Buffett show and I was prepared for it to be a bit of an experience. It definitely didn’t disappoint. The patio areas were a lot more colorful than what I’m used to on game days:

Jimmy Buffett fans hanging out before the concert
Sara Sanchez

It was equally colorful on the field. We had a great view of the stage and the field level from section 429. I would definitely look for seats in this level for future shows.

Buffett view from section 429
Sara Sanchez

I couldn’t get a great shot of it because of the lighting, but Buffett played his second encore from the pitcher’s mound after showing a tribute to the Cubs, including their 2016 World Series win on the video boards. It was a solid way to end a show.

Def Leppard & Journey Concert

Def Leppard and Journey on the marquee
Sara Sanchez

This show wound up being a blast and I’m glad I made a last minute decision to look for a ticket. Tickets were available below face value on StubHub the day of the show and when I heard The Pretenders were a special guest opening act I decided to see what I could get for under $30. It turned out I wound up with a pretty good seat in the lower grandstand.

I was impressed with the activity around the park before the show. There were pre-shows at Gallagher Way, and frankly the energy level seemed comparable to the Buffett concert the day before. Considering that Jimmy Buffett fans are known for their pre-gaming of concerts (pre-concerting?) I was impressed with the turnout and energy. Brickhouse Tavern was even selling limited edition Def Leppard craft beer:

Def Leppard Pale Ale at Brickhouse Tavern
Sara Sanchez

Our own Schoolly_D was pretty bummed that The Pretenders weren’t getting a lot of love on the billing around the park as you can see from the Gallagher Way sign:

Def Leppard and Journey on the screen at Gallagher Way
Sara Sanchez

So I wanted to assure him that they were getting a lot more love in the park:

Special Guest: The Pretenders
Sara Sanchez

One thing that’s always tricky at Wrigley Field is the audio system. There have been more than a few comments about how uneven the system is during games. I didn’t notice any audio system problems during either show, and took a couple of short videos so you can hear for yourself [VIDEO].

I also shot this brief clip of Journey singing their classic “Faithfully” [VIDEO] to give you an idea of the crowd and scene. You’ll notice that there is a whole section with no one seated in it behind home plate. This is by design as that view isn’t all that great given the lighting equipment that sits between home and the stage in center field.

I’m not going to lie, I came to this show for the opening acts, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Def Leppard segment of the evening. They were tremendous showmen and had a solid set. Fun fact, they were in the middle of the song Hysteria when news of the Mike Matheny firing broke on Twitter.

Def Leppard put on a great show
Sara Sanchez

I really had an incredible time at the ballpark during both shows, and don’t have a lot of complaints. I will however discuss two things that irritated me. The already high concession prices at Wrigley Field were even higher for both shows. This seemed true pretty much across the board, but as a person who likes a beverage at a concert (or ballgame) I just have to say that a $12 beer is beyond the limits of reasonable (for comparison, that same beverage is $10.50 during a Cubs game).

Second, some of the allowed items at the ballpark are different for concerts than they are for home games. For example, I have a small umbrella that I’ve never had a problem getting into a baseball game, but they threatened to confiscate it before the Def Leppard concert. I live close enough that I was able to take it home and not lose it (I really like that umbrella), but I think if the allowed items are different for Wrigley non-baseball events it needs to be communicated more clearly. I looked at my ticket and did a quick perusal of basic information and couldn’t find that flagged anywhere.

Despite those small complaints these activities at the ballpark are a huge addition to the neighborhood. In addition to headliner shows at Wrigley and packed movie nights, Gallagher Way continues to offer incredible options like a Farmer’s Market, morning exercise classes, free viewings of select sporting events like the World Cup final, and more.

Seriously, you should check it out next time you get a chance. I walk by a few times a week just to be sure I’m not missing out on something fun in the neighborhood.