Outside of the blues, hotdogs and pizza, Chicago is perhaps best known for its sports. All year round, fans crowd into the sporting arenas throughout the city to cheer on the Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, White Sox, Cubs or Fire. And if they aren't watching the games, they're out playing them in one of Chicago's many sporting clubs or outdoor premises.
Known as the Madhouse on Madison, aptly named for its rowdy species of fans, the United Center sports arena hosts the Blackhawks and Bulls. A statue of Michael Jordan, flying through the air in his signature pose, stands out front on the east side of the arena, reminding basketball fans of the exciting legacy of the greatness 'His Airness' left to the city. So long as you don't mind a little pandemonium and are not cheering for the opposing team, you can take in a game at one of the many sports bars located just around the arena. Tickets for the Blackhawk games are sure to be a hot item this upcoming season after winning this year's Stanley Cup.
If its football or soccer you want, then the iconic Soldier Field, where the Bears and Fire play, is the place to go. On game days it is custom to hold a tailgate barbecue in the huge parking lot of the arena. Just be sure to get there early, as the popularity of this pre-game ritual has grown to be a pretty packed event over the years.
The fierce rivalry between the city's two baseball teams, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs, centers around whether you reside on the north or south side of the city. North siders root for their beloved Cubs at Wrigley Field, otherwise known as the 'Friendly Confines', despite the notorious Curse of the Billy Goat that is believed to have hung over the field ever since the owner of Billy Goat Tavern's owner was told to leave the Cub's 1945 World Series game for bringing the goat into the stadium. Wrigleyville offers plenty of sports pubs all around the stadium. Be prepared, however, to fight through crowds if you want a seat at the bar as these places tend to fill up quickly on game day. Fans of the White Sox flock to U.S. Cellular Field on the city's south side. But don't expect to find as much bar hopping action around the stadium on game day as there is at Wrigley Field. There is more of a local, laid back, blue-collar feel to this area of the city, so fans for the Sox tend to be a less raucous bunch than their counterparts to the north.
Spots to Play Sports
Some of the more popular places to play sports in Chicago include the Oak Street Beach, a great outdoor setting for beach volleyball; the Midtown Athletic club, a premiere spot for playing tennis and doing fitness; or the East Bank Club, an exclusive and I might add quite expensive site to play basketball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and golf or go swimming.
If you're a street-baller confident enough to play pick-up games against some stiff competition, there are numerous basketball courts along Lake Shore Drive. Or you can test your mettle against college players indoors at the UIC gymnasium where non-students are able to join as members.
On weekends and summer evenings, softball is hugely popular on the North Avenue and Grant Park fields. These fields are located near Lake Michigan and in the heart of two of the most beautiful areas of the city, Lincoln Park and the Loop, respectively. With a little effort you can find plenty of people and places to play virtually any sports in Chicago. If you’re looking for budget accommodation around the many sports arenas, check out HostelBookers' and their range of Hostels in Chicago.
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