There are a number of reasons to choose a destination when it comes time to take a trip. But, for a sports fan there is only one reason, an opportunity to view great sporting events that they may not otherwise have a chance to see. There are a number of cities in the United States that have earned a reputation as a great sports town. Near the top of that list for most people sits the city of Chicago. The city of Chicago is home to multiple professional sports franchises representing all of the major sports leagues. The city also has a very active collegiate sports scene that is very popular with local fans. When it comes to choosing a city to travel to based solely on how good of a sports town it is, a sports fan could do a lot worse than selecting Chicago as their next destination of choice.
Though known more for its professional teams, Chicago has a rich collegiate sports history as well. The city is represented well by the four college sports teams located within the city; the Chicago State Cougars, the DePaul Blue Demons, the Loyola Ramblers, and the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames. The city is also geographically located near a number of other colleges including the Northern Illinois Huskies, the Northwestern Wildcats and the Valparaiso Crusaders.
Chicago is blessed with two major league baseball teams. The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox have both long been residents of the city. The White Sox recently won a World Series title in 2005. The Cubs have shown marked improvement in recent years, but still haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and haven’t even made an appearance in the World Series since 1945. Despite this, the Cubs remain not only very popular in the city of Chicago, but very popular across the entire country. The White Sox play their home games in U.S. Cellular Field which opened in 1991 as New Comiskey Park and replaced their longtime home field of Comiskey Park. The Cubs meanwhile play in one of the most famous baseball parks in the country, Wrigley Field.
Chicago is home to one of the most famous professional basketball franchises in the world. The Chicago Bulls first started playing basketball in Chicago in 1966 and were popular in the city during their first twenty years, but were really put on the map when they drafted a young player out of North Carolina named Michael Jordan. With help from great players like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley, Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr, Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships in eight years during the 1990s. The Bulls play their home games in the United Center in downtown Chicago and remain a hot ticket in the city.
Chicago has been represented in the National Football League since the league’s founding in 1920 by the Chicago Bears. Under the guidance of longtime owner and head coach George Halas, the Bears built a reputation as a tough no-nonsense team that lived up to the blue collar background that they shared with their fans. The Bears have won nine total league championships, with eight of those coming before the Super Bowl era. One of the most famous Bears teams was the 1985 version that went 15-1 during the regular season and would go on to win Super Bowl XX. That team was made up of players like Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Willie Gault, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, Gary Fencik, and more. The legendary team was coached by Mike Ditka. The Bears play their home games at Soldier Field, which although it has recently been remodeled and upgraded is still one of the great old stadiums in the league.
Hockey fans have long been spoiled with great games and teams in Chicago thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks who were founded in 1926 and have been a fixture in the city ever since. The team has won three Stanley Cup Championships during their time, the last one coming following the 1960-61 season. The Blackhawks share the United Center with the basketball playing Bulls and watching a National Hockey League game in Chicago is a great way to spend an evening.
Other Sports Teams
Chicago, being one of the biggest cities in the United States, is also home to a number of other sports teams of varying degrees of professionalism. The Chicago Fire represent the city in Major League Soccer and play their home games at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. Chicago is represented in the Women’s National Basketball Association by the Chicago Sky. The Chicago Rush compete in the Arena Football League. The American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves are a popular local hockey team. The Chicago Bandits compete in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league and the Chicago Force play in the Independent Women’s Football League. Chicago is represented in two lacrosse league with the Chicago Machine playing in Major League Lacrosse and the Chicago Shamrox playing in the National Lacrosse League.
Minor League Baseball
Chicago has a very active minor league baseball base with many teams playing in the suburbs that surround the city including the Kane County Cougars, the Schaumburg Flyers, the Gary SouthShore Railcats, the Joliet JackHammers, and the Windy City Thunderbolts.
Opened in 1927, Arlington Park has served the city of Chicago with horse racing since and also been the site of many firsts in horse racing. The first million dollar purse was awarded in an Arlington Park horse race in 1981. Arlington Park was also the first horse racing track to install a public address system as well. The historic track is a great place for anyone who enjoys horse racing to spend a day.
Chicagoland Speedway is located in Joliet, Illinois just southwest of the city of Chicago. It is a very modern speedway, having just recently opened in 2001, and is home to many NASCAR events as well as some other racing events as well.
From mainstream sports like baseball and football to sports that have less of a following but are just as exciting like horse racing and lacross, Chicago truly has something to offer almost any sports fan out there. While it is true that not every team is always in season, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a sports fan to coincide their trip to the city of Chicago with the opportunity to view their favorite sport, team or player. A great indicator of the kind of sports town that Chicago is can be seen by looking at the longevity of the sports franchises located within the city. Most have been there since their inceptions, and many were founding members of the leagues they belong to. Chicago has long been known as one the best sports cities in America, but it isn’t only that for the locals that live there, Chicago is also a great place for a sports fan to travel to and spend their vacation in. With the amount of options available to them, a sports fan would be in heaven planning their sports vacation to the city of Chicago.