Battle of the ballparks

The summer months in Chicago mean one thing in my household: sunshine, peanuts, Cracker Jack and homeruns… that’s right, baseball season. But what would a ballgame be without a stroll around the stadium? Whether you take your family out to the North side or the South side for a ballgame, there will always be something for your family to talk about. Play ball!

Wrigley Field Home of the Chicago CubsNickname: The Friendly ConfinesBuilt: 1914Seating capacity: 41,118

Tickets: $8-$67 depending on the dates you choose. Seats range from Upper Deck to Club Box.

History: The second oldest ballpark in the majors—two years behind Fenway Park—Wrigley Field was built in 1914 by William Weeghman for Chicago’s entry into the Federal League. Built on the grounds of an old seminary, it was originally called Weeghman Park.

Scoreboard: Part of the ambiance of the Friendly Confines is its rich history. It’s impossible not to notice the giant green scoreboard that sits above the bleachers and ivy, all of which has been around since 1937. The score and the pitchers’ numbers are still changed by hand.

Kid-friendly features: If you don’t use the main entrance on Clark and Addison, make sure you see the"Wrigley Field, Home of the Chicago Cubs” red marquee. Make sure to find an usher. Not only will they help you find your seat, they will give the kids a scorecard and stickers to help them better understand the game. Watch for a celebrity hanging out of the radio booth (underneath the picture of Harry Caray) singing"Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

After the game, take your kids around the park. If the Cubs won, you’ll be sure to see a white flag with a big blue"W” flying above the"Chicago Cubs” sign over the entrance to the bleachers. If the Cubbies just couldn’t pull out a win, you’ll find a blue flag with a big white"L.”

Food: Traditional ballpark fare—hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, cotton candy. The field also has pizza, chicken sandwiches, burgers, garden burgers and ice cream. Tours: Can’t get enough of Wrigley? Take a tour on non-game days with proceeds from the tours going to the Cubs Care program. The tours last 90 minutes and take you through the visitors’ and Cubs’ clubhouses, dugouts, the press box, bleachers, mezzanine suites and security headquarters. Tours run on the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and must be purchased in advance. For more information, call (800) THE-CUBS (843-2827).

U.S. Cellular field Home of the White SoxNickname: The CellBuilt: 1991Seating capacity: 40,615

Tickets: $8-$59 depending on the dates you choose, with seats ranging from Upper Deck to the Premier Club Box. Kids shorter than the turnstile arm (about 36 inches) are admitted free, but must share a seat with an accompanying adult.

History: U.S. Cellular Field is the third home of the Chicago White Sox. The original Comiskey Park was built in 1900 at 39th Street and Princeton Avenue, four blocks south of its present location. Charles Comiskey, the park’s namesake, built the park’s grandstand in 1900 since he used an already existing playing field that was home to the city’s cricket team, the Chicago Wanderers. In 1910, Comiskey built White Sox fans his"Baseball Palace of the World” at 35th Street and Shields Avenue. In 1991, it was time for a face-lift and U.S. Cellular was built.

Scoreboard: The Cell’s scoreboard features pinwheels (a tradition from Comiskey) and a giant video board. Look for fireworks over the scoreboard after a White Sox homer and when the team wins.

Kid-friendly features: A big favorite among the younger fans is found in left field, the Pontiac Fundamentals deck. Kids can run, bat and play t-ball at this three-level interactive kids area. One deck offers baseball clinics with coaches from the White Sox training centers. On another deck, kids can race a mechanical Scott Podsednik from home to first. The deck also offers batting cages and practice pitching areas. Children under 13 must be accompanied by a parent.

Keep an eye out for Southpaw, the White Sox mascot.

On hot days, cool down with a visit to the rain rooms on the upper and lower levels (section 162 and 524). You can also stop by the Chicagoland Plumbing Council Shower in section 160.

The Cell also offers Kids Days throughout the season. On these days, tickets for kids 13 and under are just $1 when an accompanying adult buys a full price ticket the day of the game. The kids will love collecting autographs pregame from select players and running the bases after the game.

Food: From traditional ballpark fare to steak sandwiches and Mexican cuisine, there is something for even the pickiest of eaters. Be sure to check out the Pepsi Rookie’s Club, which is chock full of food just for kids.

TOURS: Tours run Tuesdays and Fridays and last an hour and a half. The tours travel through the home dugout, press box, field, suites and Stadium Club. Reservations are required for a minimum of 10 people. Each tour is geared towards the group, so they are kid-friendly. Tickets are $5, $3 for kids 13 and under and should be reserved at least 10 days in advance. For information, call (312) 674-1000.

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