The steel beams that make up the ceiling at the new DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field are supposed to remind customers of the 109-year-old baseball stadium where the Chicago Cubs play.
Designers need approvals from the National Park Service, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to commence work. Gensler (which is also working on the Bally’s Chicago casino) didn’t want to remake the former Captain Morgan Club to ruin the romance of the Friendly Confines. Passersby won’t have any clue of the modern technology that resides inside.
“You’ll see the Wrigley green on the structural elements themselves so that it really felt like it was kind of almost, but not to be confused with being historic itself,” says Shawn Fawell, a design manager at Gensler.
Fawell adds the goal was to evoke nostalgia without looking historic. Gensler designed the two-story restaurant and bar owned and operated by DraftKings. They’ll open on Tuesday, June 27 without gambling — they’re still waiting to the Illinois Gaming Board’s approval (their next meeting is next month, on Thursday, July 27). The facility will be open to the public, no Cubs ticket is required.
Michael Kibort, senior director, retail sportsbook at DraftKings says this is a flagship location for the company and the first of its kind. They’re working in a similar space in Arizona: “Obviously, Wrigley being one of the top tourist destinations in the country, if not the world, is something that we’ve identified.”
Even without the ability to place bets, this is an impressive venue that greets visitors with a sprawling 2,000-square-foot curved video screen with a bottom ticker that scrolls through scores, headlines, betting odds, and other stats. The screen can show 25 games at once with stunning clarity with a 16,320 x 1,800 resolution.
“This is unique to the entire Midwest,” Jeff Denlea, vice president of hospitality strategy for Levy at Wrigley Field says. “The closest thing you get to this is Vegas.”
This will be a boon for fans of more than baseball. Fantasy football players may find the screens especially thrilling in the fall and winters. Other more obscure sports, like sumo wrestling and bag tournaments, will also be featured. After all, almost any sports can be wagered upon.
“There’s going to be lots of ebbs and flows and things that we learn — inclement weather, what that looks like — do people come in here and shelter in place during bad weather,” Denlea says. “And if we’re booming with business, we’re going to stay open.”
The giant display stretches from the ceiling a few feet over the bar and customers sitting on the second floor can view from the overhang. Behind the theater seating, there are two areas with their video and seating for about 25. These are private event spaces where the minimum spend is $3,000. This excludes any money spent on wagering.
DraftKings announced the project in 2020, a collaboration with Levy, the caterer for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The two parties are quick to point out that, despite their connections, the Cubs aren’t part of the operation. Ask Shoeless Joe or Pete Rose, but baseball still has an awkward relationship with betting. Likewise, even though the building is in some ways designed as an extension of the stadium, there’s no entrance or exit from the restaurant and bar to Wrigley. Also, ticketholders can’t come and go between the game and the sportsbook.
Every seat in the sportsbook can be reserved which might be a boon for big groups or tourists from Iowa or any locale full of true blue Cubbie fans. However, despite the presence of diaper-changing tables in the bathrooms, the facility is strictly 21+. The tables are the result of a 2019 state law. Still, Wrigley Field senior executive chef David Burns, who oversees the food at the stadium campus, says at one point he was working on a children’s menu: “It’s going to be, I think, a very relaxing atmosphere,” Denlea says. “You don’t have the little ones pulling on your coattails.”
The food is the type a fan would find while sitting club-level. Pastrami sandwiches, a giant hog dog, prime rib sandwiches, and Neapolitan pizzas make up the menu. The food and drink are full of familiar breweries. However, being a sportsbook, DraftKings promises some vintage spirits to enjoy to celebrate a big win.
Walk through the space below.
DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field, 1012 W. Addison Street, opening Tuesday, June 27.