Saturday: saw the Illini dominate Northwestern 47-14. I figured the 6.5 point favorite Illini would win and cover the spread, but I had it something like 17-3. But NW had unforced turnovers and made unforced mistakes; this was very much unlike their play in recent years.
And 47-14 ..the game was actually worse. It was 28-0 right off the bat and 37-7 at the half. The Illini dominated every single phase of the game.
I treated my wife and nephew to Colonnades Club tickets as it was rather cold. I watched the first 3 quarters from my usual seats, and then climbed to the upper deck to get a sunset shot, then down to the horseshoe for the final few minutes.
Then we drove to Indianapolis to return her nephew and then take in the Buccaneers vs Colts game. The Colts lead 24-14 at the half and appeared to be on their way for a 3’rd quarter score, but a strip sack changed momentum.
The Bucs got to 31-24 before the Colts tied it on a long drive, featuring the run game they went away from. But with 2 minutes to go, Tampa drove in for the wining score with 22 seconds to go (seems familiar)
A long kick return gave the Colts some faint hope, but a final desperation pass was intercepted.
Of course I love going to football games, and while I have season tickets to Illinois games, I also make other games; in particular Illinois State (2-3 times a year), other college games (this year: Navy at Notre Dame) and I make probably more Colts games than Bears games.
Lucas is a nice place to watch a game, but when I go there, I frequently take my wife’s nephew and roommate; that affects my choice of tickets. My choices in Lucas are mostly 600 (lower rows), 500 (mostly end zone), 400 (loge) and 300 (end zone or corner); I’ve never sat in the 200 or 100.
And there was the Jones Dome for the old St. Louis Rams games; well, that is another story for another day.
But for this post, I’ll discuss the Bears and Soldier Field. Soldier Field has limitations, namely concourse space is too small and there aren’t enough bathrooms in the non-grandstand sections. IF you have anything resembling a full house AND if you want to make it to the bathroom during half time, don’t even try the small end zone bathroom areas (the ones behind the grandstand are a better bet). The Media deck: concourses are cramped but ok. The concourses in the United Club are ok; the best concourses are those in the 100 level section; I was able to take a bathroom stop between the 3’rd and 4’th quarter and not miss a play (Ravens at Bears, 2021).
What seats should you get ? I’ll start by making general recommendations; I’ll talk about the specifics for each section below.
To “get in the stadium”: upper parts of the Grandstand and the 300 level endzone are probably the most economical seats. And the upper Grandstand has some great views of the skyline and lake. But: expect to climb, and the deck is STEEP; might not be comfortable for those who get dizzy.
To actually follow the action (listed from cheapest to most expensive) first 5 rows of the 400 level grandstand, the entire 300 level Upper Sideline or 300 United Club. IMHO, the best seats in the house to watch the plays develop without being too far removed. If you have a cold natured friend, the United Club gives you a place to go inside and get warm.
Mix between being intimate with the action and to follow the action (club seat like) Media deck or 200 United club. Latter are the most expensive seats in the house (save luxury boxes); these are the club seats. I will sometimes look for and find bargains…especially if you look a day or two before the game.
To be involved with the action (standing some, cheering, etc) 200 level end zone, or 100 level, especially the end zone. At the cost of perspective you are right where the action is. And if you are going to the game by yourself but want to watch with buddies, you will often find that here; people are very friendly. The “big picture” part of the action is harder to follow here though.
Now about sightlines and view from the seats:
Here are the various places I’ve sat for games:
100 level, side line
I sat in row 1, section 133.
Truth be told: row 1 did give you a great feel for the game; you could see the players talking to each other, hear the hitting and get a feel for how fast the game is played. But sideline plays are often missed and you don’t have the best perspective.
It WAS fun to see a TD pass right in front of you though… and access to concessions and restrooms is easy; I could make a bathroom stop between quarters and not miss a play.
Cost: for a single, WITH fees, I paid 300.00 the week of the game. That was cheaper than most of these, though one can get higher up for a bit less, and have a better view of the game.
100 level: end zone
I sat in Section 121, row 13 for the Packers at the Bears. Incredibly, with fees, the price was 117.00 (89 without fees) on Stubhub..I caught a lucky deal.
This was perhaps the rowdiest section; there was some standing but I never missed a play. For the most part, fans were well behaved and I totally enjoyed the experience. The cost: you do lose some perspective, especially on plays on the opposite goal line. But my goodness..you get a feel for how blasted fast the players are.
But this might not be the best seats for a shorter person. I would not bring my wife to this section.
End zone This was Section 225, I think, row 12 or thereabouts. I paid about 115 for these at the time (2017); the cheapest I saw for the Ravens game was 122 (with fees).
The view was ok. End zone bathrooms are tiny; better off going to the grandstand one. I’d sit here again.
200 Media Deck
I sat in Media Deck Corner (244) several times; though the concourses are small, there are heat lamps overhead which makes them very crowded during cold weather games.
I’d describe these as “junior club” level seats. They are high enough for perspective but still pretty close to the action. And this section IS cordoned off from the rest of the stadium, the way a club section would be, though there is no inside club to it. They have ushers guarding the entrance to this section.
Most of these seats are protected by an overhang that does not impede your ability to follow a punt or field goal.
Sometimes you can get a bargain; I once paid 150.00 and 125.00 for these, though, via resell and secondary market, 220-250 is more realistic for the corner and 300+ for the center sections.
200 United Club
I’d say that these are, along with the Media Deck, are the “best seats in the house.” You get access to the multi-level United Club which offers buffet, extra concessions, and a place for you and your guest to sit if it is rainy or cold.
I sat there twice: once for a college game and once for a pro game.
Warning: I’d avoid row 19 as these seats are on a low rise wooden block…and if a tall person sits in front of you, you can see nothing. The rest of this section is well angled for great sight lines.
The upper rows are shaded.
These can be some of the priciest tickets though. For the Ravens game, I found a seat for 260 (with fees) but opted for the front row in 133. In 2019, I got these for 200 each (e-bay); same seats went for 280 each for the Ravens game (near midfield ..see the Lions photos above).
Note: the club sections (200/300) have a second entrance which is checked and these sections open early and stay open for 2 hours after the game ends. So you could eat your dinner there, if so inclined.
I don’t have any experience with the 300 end zone (Colonnade level)
300 level Grandstand. I sat here for the Vikings game on January, 2023. Price was about 90 dollars each for 2 tickets (before fees), 117.00 with fees.
I was fortunate enough to get the front row in 331. Frankly, these are great seats in that they get you close enough to the field to not feel isolated, but enough perspective to really follow the game. You can both watch the receivers get open AND watch the line play. You share concession and bathrooms with the 400 level grandstand.
These are typically (but not always) less expensive than the Media Deck seats, but almost always cheaper than the United Club version of these.
300 level United Club
I’ve sat here a couple of times, near the corner. The view of the game is pretty good; you are up but not up too high. And the sight lines for the seats I had (toward the top, and toward the middle) were excellent.
These are somewhat less pricey than the 200 United Club tickets; I’d say perhaps 50 dollars less per seat, though I did get these for 175 and …yes..75 when the Bears were awful and facing a bad Browns team on a snowy Christmas eve. But for the Ravens game: 230 or so for a single; 210-220 each for a pair.
This is the massive grandstand. I’ve sat here 4 times; 3 times in the first 3 rows and once in row…30.
The plus: the first 5 rows or so really do offer you a good view of the game; you have perspective but the players still look like human beings.
Row 30…the higher rows: well, you are UP there..great view of the skyline. And you won’t miss any plays, but the large players don’t look so large from up there.
The grandstand IS steep and some might be bothered by that. Get your quads in shape for the upper rows.
The final four photos show the view from row 30.
Prices: these are typically the most inexpensive tickets in the house; at least the upper rows. This means you can often find tickets (with fees) in the 100-120 range; 150 for the lower rows near the corner and closer to 200-210 for the lower rows near midfield. Of course the cost is higher for big games; I paid something like 160 or so for the playoff game; 130-140 for the Packers games.
But these can be had much cheaper than that for non-marquee games.
I consider the lower rows (1-5 or so) to the the most economical “good seats” in the house, and I wouldn’t hesitate to sit there again.
So, how might I rate these seats?
With my wife: I’d probably prefer the United Club or maybe the upper rows of the Media Deck (she doesn’t like cold weather) for the late season games.
I’ll rate them this way:
Best “bang for the buck” for those who want to actually watch the game: first 5 rows of the 400 grandstand.
Modest splurge but even better: 300 level Grandstand (Upper Sideline); views you get in the 300 level United Club but minus the club amenities..and a bit more climbing of steep stairs.
Economical for club-like seats (but not usually cheap) : Media deck. Sometimes you can get a bargain.
Splurge 300 United Club gives you a good view of things and you might get a bargain. 200 United Club: expect to spend some money; in excess of 250 dollars most of the time (though once I landed a pair for 200 each)
Want to cheer robustly I think many of the rowdy fans are in the end zone; they REALLY get into it there. 100 level: be prepared to stand at least some of the time. 200 level is not bad; never sat in 300 level.
Foo-foo Ok, 100 level is right on top of the action. The fans do stand from time to time here though..but then again I was in row 1 so…it didn’t really matter.
And you might get on TV (see the white arrow on the left side of this still of a video clip.)
Well, about the game: The Ravens went with their backup rookie quarterback and kicked a couple of field goals; the Bears did have one long touchdown “run after the catch” to go up 7-6.
Of course the Ravens managed to go up 9-7 which appeared to be how it would end…
Then with 1:48 to go, 4’th down…long TD pass to go up 13-9! Maybe the Bears had them!
Of course not…then came the only TD drive for the Ravens; converted with 22 seconds and the Bears out of time outs.
The Bears made it to midfield but got sacked on the final play; as one fan said “it was like getting kicked in the balls by your ex wife..”
My trip: for future reference: made it out the door by 7 am and into the Wells Street Parking lot just before 10 am.
Seats: 133, row 1. Yes, front row of an NFL game. I did love seeing the crowd and being near the players as they warmed up; it did humanize them a bit. It was a bit like watching the game from the bench.
You did miss the end of some plays though; it wasn’t the best vantage point to see the whole field..though you did get a good sense of how fast the players are and how hard they hit. Tremendous athletes!
And you could see them talking to each other…competition plus mutual respect.
I’ll say more about how this compares at the end of this post.
Monday: strength, 32 minutes bike due to Sunday’s trip to the Bears game (walked about 3.5 miles total); 5 miles and stretching prior to leaving for the game. I did have to stretch a few times, especially on the way back: some pain.
pull ups: 1-2-3-4-5, 5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-3-2-1, 10 then two sets of 5 chins
Workout: some rehab, 31 minutes cycling (6 miles harder) after deadlifts:
10 x 134, 10 x 184, 10 x 228 every 3 minutes: 3 x 271, 5 sets. First were so easy that i did the last one with the smaller ball just to be sure.
Single with 305 (not easy…legs fatigued); best in decades. My hips shot up too soon; legs were trashed.
But that was it; no high handle work today.
Last night; watched the Bradley women beat Wisconsin 64-57; it was close for a long time but the team kept it together.
Today: watched Illinois State lose to Indiana State 15-10 in a game that saw ISU red score on their first play from scrimmage and went up 10-0 on the last drive before halftime…but that was pretty much it for the offense.
Indiana State outgained the Redbirds but mostly between the 20’s; they missed 2 field goals. Still, an interception set up the TD that cut it to 10-8 and a fumble on the final possession sealed the game.
And yes, I can see some of the emotion: though the eyes of some conservatives, it appears that someone “did something about” the looting and violence that seemed to go on, with impunity, at some BLM protests. “About time”, they say.
Yes, I’ve consistently denounced such violence and looting.
And yes, some liberals have been supportive of it..
And yes, some of the “woke” in academia compare the killing of those protesters with what happens ..in the workplace. Really. I have no doubt that things are sometimes unfair, but ..comparing this to getting away with shooting someone with an AR-15? Really?
It is kind of weird. I am well to the left of center in most of my views (by US standards). But I see this whole incident as a threat to order and public safety, which, if you think about it, is a very classical conservative way of thinking of things. From my point of view, some things are upside down.
Workout notes yesterday, did 32 minutes on the bike, after rehab (banded walks), pull ups (did 1-2-3-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, then sets to get 60 reps), push ups (much better range of motion), rows, curls, shoulder presses (10 x 85, 10 x 85, 10 x 90 seated, supported).
Things are looking up; yesterday, 14:20 mpm walking with breaks at 1.1, 2.1 after yoga; weighed in at 199.