Stay-At-Home Dad: A whole different ballgame
By Howard A. Ludwig June 28, 2012 11:12AM
Peter and Bubba Ludwig recently attended a Windy City ThunderBolts game in Crestwood. | Howard Ludwig~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 2, 2012 6:09AM
It’s expensive to be a fan of the Chicago White Sox, particularly when compared to the Windy City ThunderBolts.
I attended a ThunderBolts game last week at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. I spent a total of $25 at the Sunday matinee vs. the Joliet Slammers. It cost my family of four 10 times that amount to attend a Sunday Sox game in April.
Now, my tickets to the ThunderBolts’ game were free. My 4- and 6-year-old sons were given the tickets as a result of their good grades. However, lower-deck seats cost $10, so even if you’re a lousy reader or flunk math class the price isn’t too steep. It’s particularly a steal when you consider I paid $45 per ticket to see the White Sox vs. Red Sox.
I was a bit miffed when a ThunderBolts’ attendant asked for $2 to park beneath the sizzling overhead electrical wires along Midlothian Parkway in Crestwood. But compared to $23 to park outside of U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago it’s a good deal.
We ate modestly at the White Sox game. Bubba had a hot dog. Peter had pizza. The boys shared a drink. The Wife and I ate their leftovers and split a soft pretzel. She and I each had a beer, and we shared a Cracker Jack as a family. I remember the tab being somewhere around $50.
Food prices are far better at the ThunderBolts game. Draft beers cost $3, compared to $7.50 at The Cell. Hot dogs cost $2 at ThunderBolts games vs. $3.75 at White Sox games.
Both teams, I feel, cater to families. We arrived early at the Sox game and visited the Fundamentals area in left field. The Sox have a full batting cage, a mini field for taking live fielding practice, a base-stealing race and more. All of these activities are free for ticketholders on the South Side. It was also bat day, so Bubba and Pete received free full-size Louisville Sluggers as we exited the ballpark.
By comparison, the boys were able to walk on the field before the ThunderBolts game — an additional perk for their top-notch report cards. The Frontier League team coordinates silly games and races featuring kids from the crowd between innings. Boomer, the ThunderBolts’ mascot, is everywhere posing for pictures and signing autographs.
For a couple of bucks, there are also inflatable jumping houses and other kiddie activities including a pitching game and prize wheel throughout Standard Bank Stadium. The pay-to-play games were a bit annoying. But the games were cheap, and I’d rather pay $1 to spin the prize wheel than deal with a pouting preschooler.
We had a great time at both baseball games. I doubt the boys noticed much of a difference, though my wallet definitely preferred the ThunderBolts.
The thing is I preferred the White Sox game. I’m a Sox fan. I watch most games on television or listen on the radio. As a result, I feel obligated to attend several games each year. Hopefully, a bit of my money is reinvested in the ballclub.
We didn’t stay for the final out of the ThunderBolts game, opting to head home to give the boys baths instead. Truth is, I didn’t care who won. I didn’t know any of the players. I just wasn’t particularly engaged.
As we made our way out of the ThunderBolts parking lot, I took a glance at my cell phone and was able to check in on the White Sox game.
“The Sox won!” I told my family as we buckled into the minivan.
They didn’t seem to care … but I did.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at email@example.com.