Over the years, I have had the opportunity to take in a number of Cubs games from several of the rooftops that line Waveland to the north and Sheffield to the east, but it has been probably 10 years or more since the last time I had done so. In the late 1990s, the rooftops were businesses but not terribly sophisticated. They served canned beer from tubs of ice, had a couple of Weber grills used to prepare burgers and hot dogs and the seating was a set or two of rickety bleachers.
Fast-forward several years and the Cubs and rooftop owners came to blows with the Cubs claiming that the rooftop owners were "stealing" their product. Litigation between the Cubs and owners eventually resulted in a revenue sharing agreement in which the Cubs would receive about 17% off the top from the rooftop owners.
After this deal with the Cubs legitimized the rooftop operations, the various owners made substantial improvements to the buildings to meet city requirements and revamped the food and drink service. Now, most of the buildings across from Wrigley Field feature rooftop viewing and several interior levels of gathering space with fully staffed bars and food service stations.
Gone are the days of grabbing a beer from the ice tub and waiting for a hot dog. Now you can get a variety of drinks and a menu that typically consists of several types of grilled meats, salads, chips and delicious desserts.
I was invited to celebrate my friend's 40th birthday at the Lakeview Baseball Club on June 2, 2013 for the Cubs game against the Diamondbacks. The ticket cost about $85 and included all food and beverages, including beer and wine.
The day was misty and the tarp was on the infield when we arrived. The weather abated somewhat and the game was able to be played.
Notice the flags - the wind was howling in:
A view from the covered mezzanine section:
A unique view from between the buildings:
Overall, the view was fantastic; however, you would lose view of the fielder when the ball was hit to deep center and right field. When this happened it was easy to gauge the outcome of the play by the crowd reaction and then take a peek at one of the several TVs to see the replay.
They had a nice selection of beers but I was surprised to learn that they would only serve beer and wine until the middle of the 8th inning, just like in the park.
The food was okay. The burger was pretty good but the chicken sandwich was dry. We had a separate birthday cake so I did not sample the desserts, although they did look tasty.
Even though the Cubs lost, it was still a fun time and great to get together with my buddies for a ballgame. At $85, the day was a bargain, considering what it would have cost at Wrigley for the ticket, food and beer I had.
I would not necessarily recommend a rooftop for someone visiting Wrigley Field for the first time but it is an experience you will not be able to find anywhere else in the world. If you have an opportunity to take in a game from a rooftop, take it!
And in case you were wondering...the "Eamus Catuli" sign on the club is Latin which roughly translates to "Go Cubs" and the numbers after AC refer to the number of seasons it has been since the Cubs won the division (04), the pennant (67) and World Series (104). Once this year is in the books the sign will read "AC0568105."