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Chicago is at its heart a sports town, so finding a place to watch live sports in Chicago is simple. Start with a day at legendary Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball's "e;lovable losers"e;. The team hasn't won a World Series since 1908, the longest dry spell in the league. Still, going to watch the "e;Cubbies"e; is a summertime rite of passage, one in which at least fans come out winning - just being inside the ivy-festooned, historic Wrigley Field is a stirring experience. Wrigley was built in 1914, and it still boasts a manual scoreboard; it installed lights to play night games only in 1988. Try to get tickets in the bleachers, where drinking, sunning and socializing is just as important to some Cubs fans as the team finally winning a pennant would be. Can't get into the stadium? Celebrate in any of the dozens of watering holes around the Friendly Confines - thousands of fans tend to make game days all-day benders at popular bars like Cubby Bear and Murphy's Bleachers.
The pride of the South Side, the Chicago White Sox are often considered the Second City's second team, at least outside the confines of the city limits. Though the Sox's 2005 World Series victory seems to be turning the tides of popularity outside of Chicago, for fervent, lifelong fans here at home, it's business as usual. The corporate-sounding name of the Sox's home, U.S. Cellular Field, is a good indication of what the stadium looks like - modern (it was completed in 1991), massive, in the middle of a sea of concrete.
The United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks, is also massive. And it's hard to miss the amount of Chicago Bulls pennants hanging from the ceiling, as they have one of the greatest dynasties in the NBA-winning six championships in eight years and two three-peats. Now, of course, it's all about Derrick Rose, the 2011 MVP. Though he led his team to the playoffs in the same year, they were defeated in the first round. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, won the Stanley Cup in 2010, which incited a citywide Hawks frenzy.
But perhaps no other sports team is so loved across the city as "e;da Bears,"e; which call Soldier Field home. The stadium is located on the Museum Campus in the South Loop, near the Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Nobody will soon forget the glory days of the '80s, when the Super Bowl shuffle, William "e;Refrigerator"e; Perry and Mike Ditka made it all the way to the top. After a dry spell in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Bears made a comeback in 2007 (getting all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Indiana Colts) with formidable defense and a promising team of young players like Brian Urlacher, Matt Forte and Devin Hester.
Chicago is a sports town through and through. With major national teams in every sport — and two in baseball — it’s not difficult to find a great venue to see all of your favorite teams play. The key to a great sports bar is the perfect combination of food, cocktails, televisions and location. Fortunately, in Chicago, dozens of bars have perfected this mixture. For example, one of the largest sports bars in the city is Joe’s on Weed Street. Located in the funky Weed Street District near Lincoln Park, this 20,000-square-foot bar has over 110 plasma flat-screen televisions, 14 different satellite dishes for wide-game variety and an outdoor 20-inch projector screen on which you can enjoy every game.
For a more low-key environment along the Magnificent Mile, guests should head over to Sweetwater Tavern & Grille. Its location is a great plus for this bar, as it is a very short walk from Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and is also very close to Millennium Park and the business Loop district. It has plenty of televisions and an exceptional menu of traditional and more innovative bar snacks. Another great option in the hotel’s vicinity is Public House. A newcomer on the Chicago sports bar scene, it has quickly risen in the ranks in popularity. Larger booths have their own beer and whiskey right on tap at the table. Public House’s many televisions and delicious bar food make this a great sports bar destination.
Chicago is home to the Bulls and Blackhawks, which play at the United Center, the Cubs that play at Wrigley Field, the White Sox that play at U.S. Cellular Field and the Bears that play at Soldier Field.
If you're interested in watching local sports in person, scoring tickets to baseball games is your best bet, as Chicago has two major league baseball teams (the North Side Cubs and the South Side White Socks). There's almost always a game on, and baseball tickets are easier to come by than tickets to Bulls, Bears or Hawks games.
The next best thing, of course, is hanging out at a great sports bar--which infiltrate just about every neighborhood. The Cubs play at historic Wrigley Field, and the surrounding area, named Wrigleyville, is freckled with sports bars of all stripes. One of the most popular is The Cubby Bear just across from Wrigley, but I’m more partial to Vines on Clark for its roomy beer garden. For White Sox fans (or anyone else who’s not into the Cubs), Wrigleyville is the antithesis of a good place to seek out sports bars. Instead, head to an all-embracing sports bar like The Anthem in Wicker Park, one of the city’s hippest ’hoods. Soccer fans: Your HQ is The Globe in North Center, or Map Room in Wicker Park. As for football season, just tune-in to the nearest flat screen: the Bears are everywhere.