It's easier than ever to experience Chicago like a local thanks to new venues in and around Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.
“It’s exciting what’s happening in Wrigleyville,” says David Whitaker, president and CEO of Choose Chicago. New places to meet, eat, stay and play offer planners lots of variety, and “are making the neighborhood a more viable option for groups,” he says.
Indeed, Wrigleyville is “a different place now” where planners can “do something truly unique and create memories for their guests that will last a lifetime,” notes Andy Blackburn, co-managing director of Marquee Sports & Entertainment, which books events at many Wrigleyville properties.
At the center is the 100-year-old ballpark, renowned as one of the most iconic venues in the United States and one of Chicago’s top attractions for baseball fans and visitors alike, says Blackburn. Many opportunities exist to hold events inside the stadium, from filling its 41,000 seats for a private concert to hosting up to 600 guests in the new American Airlines 1914 Club located behind home plate. (Three more new event spaces will open in spring 2019.)
Where to Meet
Steps away from the field is the new 6,000-square-foot American Airlines Conference Center. It’s located on the second floor of the Park at Wrigley building, which also houses retail and restaurants and has a large outdoor plaza that’s become a neighborhood hub for year-round fun.
The conference center can host meetings or receptions for groups up to 250 people. Not only is the space flexible and equipped with the latest A/V technology, it also has great views of the ballpark, the Park at Wrigley and the Chicago skyline, says Blackburn. The Home Plate room opens up onto an outdoor terrace overlooking the plaza.
Find more meeting space on Wrigleyville’s rooftop venues, where guests also can catch a ballgame or concert with the city as the backdrop. Wrigley Rooftops operates 11 such sites, each with its own distinctive style, allinclusive food and beverage options, amenities and vantage point. “The authenticity and flexibility of the rooftops creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere [for a handful of VIPs or up 200 guests],” says Director Stacey Loukas.
Another splashy addition to the neighborhood is Hotel Zachary, across the street from Wrigley Field on Clark. The 173-room boutique property is part of Tribute Portfolio Hotels & Resorts by Starwood and is named for Chicago architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who designed the ballpark, which opened in 1914.
The hotel combines a vibrant, modern aesthetic and rich, classic elements to deliver a genuine Chicago experience, says Sales and Marketing Director Camille Garcia. Groups staying at the hotel can utilize the conference center for meeting space, or the hotel’s glassenclosed Alma room in the lobby provides private dining for up to 50 guests after lunch.
One of many new gathering spots is the Budweiser Brickhouse Tavern, named for Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse. Located off the Park at Wrigley, it has two levels, four full bars, a first-floor patio and a private room with second-floor terrace. Larger than it appears from the outside, the tavern can accommodate groups of up to 900 guests, says Alex Tomooka, event sales manager at Four Corners Tavern Group, which operates the restaurant.
Restaurants run by top Chicago chefs in or near Hotel Zachary will also deliver private and semiprivate space. Among them are Big Star, iconic for tacos and margaritas; Mordecai, a bi-level cocktail bar and restaurant; and Smoke Daddy Rhythm & Bar B Que, known for its smoked meats and live music.
Get your group in the team spirit by arranging for them to attend a Cubs game, tour the ballpark or practice their swing at the stadium’s indoor batting cages (in the off-season only). When it comes to team-building, planners can arrange for a wiffle ball tournament, ice skating at the outdoor plaza (in winter months) or just about “anything you can dream up” says Blackburn.
As venues are in high demand during baseball season, game-day and nongame-day rates may apply.
To book and customize experiences, reach out to Marquee Sports & Entertainment. The agency was created by the Ricketts family— who own the Chicago Cubs and has equity in Hotel Zachary, the Park at Wrigley and Wrigley Rooftops—to manage event opportunities at these venues.
THE WHEELHOUSE HOTEL
Another boutique property, this one by Bedderman Lodging, is expected to open on Clark Street in Wrigleyville later this year: The Wheelhouse Hotel, named for the batting zone where players are most likely to hit a home run.
The 21-room hotel has five different room types, from terraced suites to king rooms with lounge areas, and features grand windows, bespoke mill work and local art. Private event spaces include The Rooftop at the Wheelhouse, overlooking the Wrigleyville neighborhood, and a soonto-open restaurant and speakeasy-style cocktail lounge. “The Wheelhouse Hotel is the perfect venue for meeting and event planners looking to host smaller scale events,” says hotel coowner Robby Baum.