Stuck in traffic around the stadium. Throngs of people pushing their way through narrow concourses. Interminable concession and restroom lines. A stranger's leg pressed against mine while in a compact seat. All of those things were gone when I went to a Cubs game last Friday with my family during these pandemic days.
The biggest struggle of the whole thing was getting the tickets on-line two weeks before. Refreshing the computer queue over and over only to see the tickets that were just there had suddenly vanished was an infuriating situation, not so different from scheduling a Covid vaccine. Eventually there were tickets available, however negotiating where we sat at Wrigley Field was not really possible—you take what you can get. With the limited 10,000 seats per game available, in a stadium that holds over 41,000, being choosy isn't as possible.
But back to the better parts. We ordered food and drink from our seats using our phone and the Cubs on-line system. I scanned the QR code on the seat-back in front of me and placed and paid for my order. Then I went and got it, but I could have had them bring my order to me if I wanted that service. Simple. No lines. I even had a Cubs representative ask me how the whole ordering food and drink experience was. "Fine, young man, fine. Worked like a charm." Apparently, when they rolled out the on-line ordering feature this season there were some glitches, but they've been worked out. The aisle vendors are still there, just fewer of them. Do I miss the tradition of a hot dog being handed down a row of mouth breathers and dubious hand washing between vendor and guest? Hell no.
Having no other people seated around us for social distancing was my kind of spacious seating sporting event. It was kind of like going to a White Sox game during normal times. The mask rule is: unless you're eating or drinking the mask stays on. Two women plopped down directly behind us in the 3rd inning, in not-their-seats and ate popcorn. My wife turned around and politely asked, "are those your seats?" They said nothing and moved along. Why they had to be directly on top of us eating and breathing all over, instead of in their own seats, was a little confounding. We were practically in the last row under the overhang. Not a very coveted area.
I'm sure this is how most professional sports venues are operating now, but this is not how I hope sporting events will forever be. I want the roar of the crowds back. I want the electricity of the fans and I'll even accept the minor inconveniences that come with the territory, but this year I will take advantage of as many games as I can and live like a king, while watching the 2021 Cubs play their special lackluster brand of baseball.