My box seats directly behind home plate in the second deck at Wrigley Field provided me with an incredible view of the playing field and the new video boards. I visited for the first time last Wednesday, and caught a great game between the Cards and Cubs. Unfortunately, the Cubbies blew the game in the top of the 9th inning, 6-5! Below, my view of the field.
Those new bleachers in left and right field change the stadium dramatically, too. They rise considerably higher than the old bleachers. With the addition of the video boards, Wrigley is now more enclosed. The park is no longer quite as open to views of the Gold Coast apartment buildings on the Near North Side.
So, do the video boards improve or detract from the fan experience at Wrigley?
The stage for the game is much more compressed and focused by this enclosure of the stadium by higher bleachers and video boards. For dramatic purposes, I think this renovation is a roaring success.
I think that the change is entirely positive. I'd brought along my iPad to follow the stats and player information during the game, but the iPad proved to be unnecessary.
The left field video board provided individual player stats for batters and pitchers, and provided instant replay on questionable plays. Each time a batter walked up to the plate, a picture of his face along with his stats was displayed. Same for a new pitcher entering the game. With the instant replays, the fan receives all the basic info a TV watcher at home is used to getting.
In addition, the left field board relayed the type and velocity of each pitch. The Cards' pitcher, Michael Wacka, was a master of changing speeds. His fastball topped out at 98 mph, and his changeup bottomed out at 88 mph. Cub batters flailed comically at that changeup.
The right field board displayed each team's lineup as in a box score. At times, each player's batting average was displayed. At other times, his batting line for the current game was displayed, as in 1-2 (or "one for two"). The batting line for the next player up for both teams was highlighted in yellow... a great bit of info!
And, then there's the old iconic scoreboard in center field that displayed the line scores for every game in the majors, along with ball and strike counts and number of outs. However, that scoreboard doesn't display a composite score for the game! I had to calculate the game score by adding up the inning scores! Funny! None of the three outfield boards displayed the composite score, or the standard run, hits, errors line. All that info was displayed in a non-linear fashion on the centerfield board.
Very little crappy kids' video was displayed on the left field video board. On unfortunate exception was one of those animated "chase around the stadium" things, and that was awful.
Most of the non-game related video was useful and informative. As the game began, a light rain was falling, so the TV weatherman did a bit on the upcoming weather forecast that was displayed on the left field board.
If only Pedro Strop had not thrown that batting practice fastball to Johnny Peralta, blowing the game for the Cubs, my experience at renovated Wrigley would have been all positive.