Home of the Chicago Bears
Team: Chicago Bears
Stadium Capacity: 61,500
Soldier Field was built in the 1920s and over the decades has seen a little of everything: Army-Navy games, the Dempsey-Tunney fight, political rallies. But for most of its history there weren’t any Bears games; the Monsters of the Midway played at Wrigley Field for 50 years before moving to Soldier Field in 1971. It’s part of the team’s identity now, though, and they have a shiny new stadium crammed down between the old classic columns on the same lakefront site. The new Soldier Field has come in for devastating architectural critiques – looks like a UFO landed on top of the columns – and it is the smallest NFL stadium, which is somewhat surprising considering the vast fan base. Once inside, though, there are excellent sightlines, more spacious seats than the old place and food and beer within easy reach. And the fans are knowledgeable and loud, fueled by booze, encased meats and the desire to stay warm. They do love Da Bears.
Game day for many Bears’ fans starts, no matter the weather, at a tailgate in one of the many parking lots scattered about Chicago’s lakefront. The best and most convenient spot is the Waldron Deck just south of the stadium. Don’t know anyone lucky enough to have one of the prized (and expensive) passes to get into this lot? Just throw a six-pack in your backpack and join the crowds. Likely someone will invite you over, anyway, to share a brat or Polish sausage off the grill. … An alternative is one of the taverns in the South Loop neighborhood across Lake Shore Drive from the stadium. The Wabash Tap is the closest spot, and they make a nice Bloody Mary. But be forewarned: bars can’t open until 11 a.m. on Sundays and you’ve got a far walk to make it for the noon kickoff, so drink fast. … While Soldier Field has been almost universally criticized for how it looks on the outside, it is a nice place to take in a game. Many of the seats are right on top of the field and, unlike the old configuration, it seems to hold the noise. So grab a brew (Miller products, with the occasional stand offering imports) and head to your seats. … During the game, join in as the Soldier Field faithful belt out the Bears fight song, Bear Down, Chicago Bears, after every score by the home team. Sure, it’s a little corny, but who cares? … At some point take a stroll to the stadium’s west side where you can walk under the classic columns. And when you’re in need of a restroom, time your runs appropriately, because the recent renovation did nothing to alleviate the logjams at the bathrooms. … After the game, head back to any of the several bars in the South Loop. If you’re exiting to the south, hit Kroll’s, a spacious sports bar; to the north there’s the Irish pub Kitty O’Shea’s, located off the lobby of the Hilton on Michigan Avenue. For a little more elbow room go to the Weather Mark Tavern, where it’ll be less crowded and the wings are tasty. … Next, walk over to the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, located in an old fire station and featuring excellent steaks, chops and seafood. If you have something else in mind, the dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs of downtown Chicago are a short cab ride away.
Wabash Tap, 1233 S. Wabash Ave., (312) 360-9488
Kroll’s, 1736 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 235-1400
Kitty O’Shea’s, 720 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 294-6860
Weather Mark Tavern, 1503 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 588-0230
Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, 1401 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 786-1401
Wise Guide Tips / Know what the locals know, go where the locals go
At Wise Guides, we believe “spectator” should be a verb. Not because you should suck down 12 beers, run on the field and try to take the first baseman’s job — you shouldn’t. It’s because there’s so much more to going to a game than simply sitting in your seat watching the action. There are stadiums and neighborhoods to explore, food and drink to try, history to learn and interesting people to meet. Try our Wise Guides tips, they are funny, helpful and, we hope, interesting.
Game Day Itinerary: Soldier Field
Game day for many Bears’ fans starts, no matter the weather, at a tailgate in one of the many parking lots scattered about Chicago’s lakefront. The best and most convenient spot is the Waldron Deck just... Read more »