By: BOBBY COZZIE
It’s a crisp morning on Sunday, Sept. 13, a perfect way to start off a brand new season of football and Americana. On this day, I’m heading into the windy city of Chicago to witness the oldest rivalry in the NFL as the Chicago Bears face their division foe Green Bay Packers. But this isn’t about the game — it’s about the event, atmosphere and experience that goes with attending a professional sporting event.
Now I’ve been to professional sporting events before, but never one of this magnitude—opening day, huge rivalry—nor had I ever taken part in the full revelry of the day. But we’re in Rome today, so time to do as they do.
My group, consisting of my older brother and two of our friends, meets at the South Bend airport to take the train in to the game around 8:45 a.m. At 9:00 a.m., the train departs. One of the group members has a 12-pack of 16-ounce beers—a good call—and we proceed to start drinking. Somewhere around Michigan City, a solid buzz kicks in and the case is soon empty. We ridicule the provider of beer for not providing enough.
Around 10:45 a.m. Central time, we reach the 18th Street stop in Chicago and make our way to the stadium, the buzz from the train ride nearly gone, but the energy from the crowd making the walk easier.
We arrive at the stadium, the legendary Soldier Field, and immediately look for a tailgate. The Miller Ultimate Tailgate is found. Free entry and there’s a bar nearby. I approach the bar with the intent of buying myself and three group members a beer. Check price, which is…$9.75. So four beers at $9.75 a pop equals no. I’m not buying any beer here. We leave to find cheaper beer.
We find the Bud Light tailgate. There’s free entry and you get a hand stamp that permits reentry. A bar is located with $4 Budweisers and Bud Lights and $5 Goose Islands. Much better. I approach bartender with cash in hand and am told they do not accept cash. I must purchase coupons. I find a coupon counter and buy $20 worth of coupons. I return to the bar and purchase two Goose Islands, as everyone else at this party seems to be sipping on two drinks at once and I don’t want to feel left out.
It’s 11:15ish a.m., and I must buy more coupons (I’ve switched to drinking Budweiser at this point). A return is made to the coupon salesman, where I purchase $30 worth of coupons and buy two beers. I make it rain coupons (well, it was more like a drizzle of coupons) and hastily pick up all coupons so as not to lose out on money and/or beer.
At 11:45 a.m., we start making our way into stadium, waiting in a really long, really crowded line with no beer.
It’s sometime after noon when we finally make it to our seats. They’re great seats too, right in the north end zone on the mezzanine. Except I can’t see a single thing that happens on the opposite side of the field, and the players never seem to run as far as they actually do. Anyways, the players make some plays and some stuff happens and the people yell and I need a beer. And a sausage. And probably a couple more sausages.
I buy an overpriced stadium beer and sausage at $9 and $6, respectively, and make my way back to my seat. Devour sausage and beer. Buy another $6 sausage from vendor.
Somehow it’s now getting to be the end of the third quarter. Interesting. I could have sworn they had just started. Anyways some more plays happen and the people yell and the crowd is buzzing thinking that the Bears are going to do something good and I also get excited being a Bears fan but then I remember that Jay Cutler plays quarterback for the Bears and he hates his fans so they lost.
Just before the official end of the game, we make our way back to the tailgate because the train doesn’t come for another hour and a half and it’s just a ploy to get me to spend more money and it totally worked because I did.
At 4:45 p.m., we re-board the train and make our way back to South Bend, arriving home sometime after dark.
Most would describe a day like this as simply priceless. But it’s an NFL game so it has a price — an overinflated one at that.
So let’s tally it up: a $115 ticket, three sausages at $6 a pop, a questionable number of coupon beers requiring 4 to 5 coupons per beer at $1 a coupon, and another questionable number of stadium beers at $9 each equals…I’m an idiot.