GAME ON: Wrigley Field’s new sportsbook is drawing big crowds for football season and fight nights.
Best New / Refurbished Space
Draftkings Sportsbook At Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field’s new sportsbook is driving heavy traffic to the vintage ballpark during baseball’s offseason, much to the delight of Levy, the Chicago-based concessionaire that runs its foodservice.
Four months after the sportsbook opened in June, football and fight fans are flocking to the facility to watch their favorite teams and combatants on the impressive LED videoboard that flows above the bar, said Jeff Denlea, Levy’s vice president of hospitality strategy.
The big screen, produced by Nanolumens, measures 15 feet tall and 134 feet long with a total of 2,000 square feet of display space. The board has the capability to show 25 sports events simultaneously.
“On non-game days, it’s the best sports viewing destination, not only in Wrigleyville, but outside of Las Vegas,” Denlea said. “We’ve seen a huge increase in fight nights for boxing and UFC.”
Construction of the $25 million sportsbook was financed in a partnership between DraftKings, the book’s sponsor, and Wrigley Field Holdings, which is tied to the Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs and the ballpark.
The sportsbook is a separate building that sits next to the Chicago Cubs ballpark along the right-field line. It’s a retrofit and expansion of the old Captain Morgan Club. Years ago, Wrigley’s original stadium club restaurant stood in that vicinity, which Levy started running in the 1980s.
So far, patrons are restricted to placing bets on their mobile devices, per Illinois law. DraftKings has applied for a license with the Illinois Gaming Board for individuals to place bets at kiosks inside the sportsbook. but as of mid-October, the request had not been approved.
Football weekends are packed as well at the sportsbook, Denlea said, starting with college football on Saturdays, followed by NFL contests on Saturday.
For Levy, the group sales biz has flourished at the sportsbook, according to Denlea.
The 17,000-square-foot space has tables to accommodate reservations for eight to 10 people on the first floor.
On the second level, there are booths to fit 12 people with two areas that both hold 25 people. Groups must commit to a minimum spend of $50 for smaller gatherings, up to $3,000 for 25 people.
For over 12 people, a second-floor space is encouraged, Denlea said.
Levy has had no issues filling the 25-person slots. Over the first four months, five private events have booked the entire second floor for corporate events and birthday parties. In addition, three smaller groups have all booked tables for the entire 17-week NFL season, Denlea said.
“It’s pretty cool to have a little bit of a fan base already in place to spend the day with us,” he said.
The bigger groups have resulted in Levy tweaking its menu a bit to feature platters of nachos and fried chicken wings to accommodate them. The change in season has the food provider rolling out a fall cocktail list with a spiced Moscow Mule and a caramel apple cocktail.
Draft beer towers continue to rank among best-selling adult beverage options, Denlea said.
To date, the sportsbook has stayed open until 1 a.m. on Saturdays for fight nights, when many bouts in Las Vegas don’t start until about 11 p.m. Central Time.
The winter season brings a few events to the ballpark as a whole, namely the Iowa-Northwestern college football game and Winterland at Gallagher, the popular winter festival running from mid-November to mid-January. Those activities will most likely bring additional visitors to the sportsbook.
Levy officials anticipate booking a large number of private holiday parties leading up to Christmas.
“We’re already working on winter (food and drink) specials more broadly as we head toward the colder months; making sure our guests know that it’s a prime destination to continue to watch their favorite sports at a good social gathering space within Wrigleyville,” Denlea said.