No ticket? You can still ‘Bear Down’ in Chicago

Today’s column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

No ticket? You can still ‘Bear Down’ in Chicago


Jan. 22, 2011

So, you didn’t want to spend your kids’ college savings, cash in your 401K or sell a kidney – heck, maybe both – just to buy a ticket to the NFC Championship game at Soldier Field.

Well, good.

Because, I have a gameplan for you to still soak in Sunday’s epic gameday atmosphere in Chicago without breaking the bank. All you need to do is get yourself to the city. Oh, and perhaps call in sick on Monday.

I might have you out past your bedtime.

Stop 1: Grace O’Malley’s, 1416 S. Michigan Ave.

Grace O’Malley was an Irish noblewoman-turned-pirate, who became legendary for exploits such as storming castles and kidnapping the son of a baron simply because he told her he was too busy at dinner to meet with her.

Sounds like a football fan to me.

Located in the South Loop just a few punts west of Soldier Field, Grace O’Malley’s is an ideal place to start your Sunday and watch the big game on the saloon’s big screens. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and expect plenty of Bears fans there to eat, drink and be merry.

Hopefully, by the end of the game, the smack-talking Packer fan next to you will be gorging himself on crow.

Stop 2: Kroll’s South Loop, 1736 S. Michigan Ave.

Speaking Packers fans, after the Bears win – let’s assume one today, worry about one tomorrow – you should roll out the door of Grace O’Malley’s bellowing “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” and hotfoot it three blocks south to revel in victory – at a Packers bar.

Yes, there’s one just blocks from Soldier Field.

Now, Kroll’s South Loop isn’t technically a designated Packers bar (that’s not great for business on your usual Bears’ game day). But, make no mistake it is. The owners of Kroll’s South Loop not only are from Green Bay, their parents founded the original Kroll’s West, a landmark located across the street from Lambeau Field for more than 70 years.

So, on Sunday, make sure to hustle to Kroll’s South Loop after the game to get some good gloating in. After all, Packers fans might not stick around long.

Stop 3: Miller’s Pub, 134 S. Wabash Ave.

Few places in Chicago are more Chicago than Miller’s Pub. So, what better place to hoist a celebratory toast and a victory dinner (try the ribs) than the Loop landmark?

To get to Miller’s Pub from Kroll’s South Loop is a snap. Just walk up Michigan Avenue, hang a left on Roosevelt Road and take the CTA Red Line north to the Jackson stop. Miller’s Pub is one block east and one block north.

The pub’s walls are festooned with the Windy City’s premier collection of autographed athlete and celebrity photos, including plenty of Bears. And, if you’re lucky, you might even snag a spot near the east end of the bar in “Bill Veeck’s Corner,” an area where the Chicago sports legend formerly held court.

Stop 4: Rockit Bar & Grill, 22 W. Hubbard St.

Last summer, Rockit was rockin’ when the entire Chicago Blackhawks team visited the trendy-but-casual River North bar the day after winning the Stanley Cup.

So, late on Sunday night, if you’re hoping to see a Chicago Bear out on the town, Rockit – ranked by the Chicago Tribune as the No. 5 place to spot celebrities in 2010 – is as good a place to do it as any.

To get there from Miller’s Pub, simply take the Red Line north to Grand and walk a block south to Hubbard Street.

After that, you’re on your own. Happy hunting. And, Go Bears.