I told myself I might not go. But who was I kidding?
I sat in a new-to-me section: 121, row 13..got a great deal on a ticket (117 with fees, 89 without); I could hardly believe it.
The scan: I need to clean my case, or maybe get a new one.. eventually it worked. And I got hassled because of my bag; the coat inside the bag made it appear larger than authorized, but it was an official stadium bag.
But..my walk to the stadium was a joy; no pain (wish I had worn my walking shoes instead of boots) and I never got cold. Never needed my second sweatshirt.
The second walk was about .2 miles further, but it didn’t matter. It was so unlike last year. Damn; that walk hurt last year. And it took a LOT longer; it was dark by the time I got to the highway. This time: I was home by 6:47.
Oh, what about the game itself? It started out promising enough; the Bears drove for a field goal then their star QB busted a long touchdown to put the Bears up 10-0. Later it was 16-3 due to a long drive (aided by a spectacular long pass..but a botched hold on the extra point kept it 16-3; Green Bay made it 16-10 at the half.
3’rd quarter: long pass..field goal…19-10 but when the Packers retaliated in the 4’th to make it 19-17, the Bears hit a long pass, stalled, and then got a kick blocked. Sigh…you could hear the Bears fans anticipating what came next.
And yes, it did..with just about 4 minutes left the Packers kicked a field goal to take a 20-19 lead.
Then..on the drive INTERCEPTION …..still time to get the ball back.
Then the Packers pulled off a superb end around (I saw the runner play for North Dakota State vs Illinois State). I was fooled..I was looking toward the misdirection ..as was the Bears defense. I didn’t see the runner until he was already inside the 20.
The Packers hit a two point conversion. The Bears tried to fight back, but threw another interception to end the game.
I took a few short clips.
And so…no problems with the trip or the walking. I like that. And I got to sit in a new-to-me place in Soldier Field.
The skinny: no in person game, but my wife treated me to a walking “ghost of Lincoln” tour, which was about 2.5 miles (to and from the hotel…plus close a mile getting our dinner), so it was a lot of standing and walking.
And the back/glute held up! Yeah, I know..no big deal normally, but in late spring, I could have NOT done this, at least without a lot of pain.
I did feel tightness and stiffness at times, but not much real pain, and it was not debilitating or even limp producing.
Yes, the Patriots outgained the Colts, who got less than 50 net passing yards. But thanks to two interceptions and a blocked punt, the Colts lead 17-0 at the half and 20-0 early in the 3’rd due to another interception.
But the Patriots rallied and eventually cut it to 20-17, when the Colts broke a long run against a stacked defense; when they split the defensive backs it was all over.
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.
And my only regret..besides Navy not winning, is that I didn’t get to watch Illinois beat Minnesota 14-6. The Illini are no longer a joke; if you under-estimate them you could be in trouble, even if you are a good team.
But..Illinois is not at a level to handle the opponent’s A game…not yet.
Yesterday: left about 7:30, which was somewhat too early, but not a LOT too early. Parked at the White Field (cheap Stub-hub parking pass); got a deal on “preferred seating” via Stubhub too.
The drive, with brief stops, is 4 hour-ish each way.
Ok, the game: ND won as expected 34-6, though Navy lead 3-0 after one, it was tied at 3 until 3 minutes to go in the first half and also had a long, time consuming drive in the 3’rd to cut the lead to 17-6.
But ultimately, ND was too much.
Ultimately, it was a great experience, except for the score.
Note: what really struck me was how full the place was 30 minutes to kickoff. At Illinois, the game itself isn’t that full; 30 minutes to kick off it is quite empty.
Last shot: teams stood with each other for each other’s song. Class act.
In my previous post, I described my trip. Now I’ll talk about COVID.
Last Tuesday, my wife left for a trip with vaccinated friends; she went to Chicago. Note: though she masked up on the train as required, she did eat in some restaurants and she didn’t wear a mask in the hotel or elivator. She felt ill on Thursday; it turns out that she came down with COVID and got antibody treatments. She is isolating at home.
Personally: the only indoor place I don’t/did not mask up in..or was, the larger gyms (Riverplex, university gym) which have high ceilings and constant fans/ceiling fans. I masked up in stores, the hotel gyms, gas stations, rest stops, etc. And yes, from now on, I will mask in the gyms.
But…and this applies locally too…if you mask up, you’ll be the rare exception. I did see one hotel clerk masked and one gas station attendant. At the Texas Natural History Museum, everyone was masked.
But everywhere else, masks were an rarity…I’d say, 5-10 percent, tops? Yes, I know what the CDC guidelines are for vaccinated individuals, and I know that too many are not.
Be careful out there; this delta variant is no joke and this infection is no fun.
Back in Peoria. As previously stated, on Sunday, I made it to north of Waco before my car ran over a sharp screw. I stayed the night and got 4 new tires. Then I made it as far as Ft. Leonard Wood and stayed the night; made it in this morning.
Workout: each day, I used the exercise bike in the hotel and got 10 miles in 34-39 minutes, and did my usual rehab.
Summary for my road workouts: bike 10 miles and rehab: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday weights: Friday, Sunday Elliptical: Saturday
Hotels: Hampton Inn: Wednesday Night (Muskogee), Monday night (Ft. Leonard Wood).
Sunday night: Holiday Inn Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Omni (Austin, Southpark)
I’ve been impressed with the Hampton; it is a bit like a value Hilton, if you will.
Traffic: the amount of semis on the road is insane. There is more than ever; in fact one of the hotel clerks noted it.
But as far as the “non-flat-tire” lowlights:
I saw 8-10 highway trooper speed traps. All but ONE were in Illinois, and the Illinois portion was easily less than 20 percent of the trip, in mileage. They were EVERYWHERE along I-55 from St. Louis to the I-155 turn off which leads to Peoria..and of course, lots of orange barrels…
I-35 from Austin to Dallas was dreadful. Sunday saw 41 minutes worth of delays on that stretch, mostly between Austin and Waco. I’d say that there were 5 places with stopped traffic: South Austin, North Austin, Round Rock, Temple, Waco. In fact, googlemaps reroute through Waco to avoid the pile up on I-35 is where I caught my nail.
I-635 around Dallas; the northern part, was awful. It really is quicker to cut right through: I-35 to US 75.
People were kind and generous. When I was waiting for AAA to come (flat tire), I went ahead and put on the doughnut myself. 4 different guys and 4 different times asked if I needed help! I got it ok. And the AAA guy gave me a great tip to stay at the Holiday Inn that was next to Discount Tires, and they set me up with new tires and had me on my way in an hour!
All of the hotel people were kind and courteous.
Now, about COVID…that is for Part II. Note: this delta variant is no joke.
Ok, the morning workout (38 minute 10 mile, weights including rehab, pull downs (5 x 175, 10 x 160, 10 x 160), curls (3 sets of 10), standing dumbbell shoulder (10 x 20, 25, 30) went ok.
Lunch with the daughter was excellent.
The drive back:
I 35 sucked. standstill going downtown, just north of downtown and 2-3 more times before Temple, in Temple and in Waco… so I followed Google’s suggestion and took at trip through city streets only to see the “check tire” light come on as I entered the interstate. So I filled up the tire and could feel air over my hand as I inflated the tire..
So, I pulled over into a gas station (no services) to call AAA. They came by 2 hr. later..by then I had my tire on.
Bless their hearts, at least 3 different guys offered to help me.
The AAA guy tightened the nuts a bit more and inflated the spare. And he gave me the address of a Holiday Inn that is only 0.5 miles away from a Discount Tire, so we shall see. I am 13 hours away, but I won’t make it in on Monday.