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Staff Picks: Favorite Sports Venue

There’s an old adage that says, “You don’t know how much you love something until it’s gone.” 

Since the American sports scene was put on pause in March, sports fans have missed out on a lot. NCAA March Madness was canceled. MLB Opening Day was moved to July and played without fans. Sports enthusiasts are hard-pressed to find an event they can attend in person. 

Fortunately, sports have returned over the last few months, but uncertainty remains for many –including student-athletes here at Bradley. 

While we wait for collegiate athletics to return, it’s time for The Scout’s Sports Staff to reflect on some of our favorite things in sports. 

For each of the next few weeks, members of our staff will select their personal favorite from a number of categories, starting with our favorite place to take in a sporting event – back when we could do such things in person. 

Larry Larson, Sports Editor: Wrigley Field

I’ve been to 18 other MLB stadiums, each of them unique and beautiful, but none give me the same feeling that Wrigley Field gives me each time I walk through the gates. 

Perhaps it’s the Cubs fan in me talking, but every time I see the vivid colors of the Friendly Confines, it takes me back to my first baseball game when I was 6 years old. Especially enchanting are the luscious shades of green that pop on a midsummer 1:20 p.m. game. The well-manicured grass, hand-operated scoreboard and thick ivy adorning the outfield walls never fail to make me feel something. 

Joey Wright, Assistant Sports Editor: Chicagoland Speedway

For NASCAR fans in the Midwest, there are currently only a few racetracks that offer a reasonable drive for catching a race in person. One of the four tracks in the region that currently hosts a Cup date is Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, a track that has been a staple of my summers for years.

You can expect to see action at one of the best 1.5-mile tracks in the sport – known for playing host to some classic battles over the years. Furthermore, the 47,000-seat facility boasts a great atmosphere on race day, with gearheads from around the area gathering to tailgate and celebrate their favorite sport.

Cameron Irwin, Contributor: Tropicana Field

Despite being given a bad reputation for its location, lack of space and toughness to catch a fly ball, the uniqueness of the dome makes Tropicana Field one of the best places to watch a game. Tickets are always cheap and seats are plentiful. Fans are sparse at “The Trop,” allowing fans to feel closer to the game and the players no matter where they’re seated. But most importantly, they offer the best stadium food options; pulled pork nachos, lobster rolls and the ever-popular short rib grilled cheese top a loaded menu all around the venue. 

Colin Davern, Contributor: United Center

My favorite sports venue I’ve been to would have to be the United Center in Chicago, home of the NHL’s Blackhawks and NBA’s Bulls. It is the largest arena in the NBA, and the second largest in the NHL, which gives it an advantage for me. Bigger crowds usually mean a louder atmosphere and a better experience as a result.

The arena, which opened in 1994, is a nice mix of the features of historic venues like Madison Square Garden and those of newer ones like Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The crowd cheering during the anthem for Blackhawks games, and the Bulls’ famous intro music are traditions that date back to both teams’ years at Chicago Stadium, while features like the atrium on the east side of the arena and the brand new jumbotron installed in 2019 give the venue a more modern feel.

The UC offers a mix of what makes the older and newer arenas across the NHL and NBA great, and an experience there is certainly worth it … unless you’re sick of hearing “Chelsea Dagger” getting stuck in your head after the Blackhawks score a goal.

Anthony Landahl, News Editor: Guaranteed Rate Field

If it’s a September day, where the weather isn’t too hot but just a little bit chilly at night, then my sports venue of choice would be Sox Park. The Cell. U.S. Cellular Field. Only in Chicago fashion would I refer to a place by its former name. 

It’s all about sitting on the first-base side with some of the park’s great food. You got options with a mini baseball helmet full of nachos, chicken and waffles or, my go-to park favorite: a churro. And if you get the Sox on a night where they can actually play, then you’re in for a fireworks show – literally.

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