Friday, January 29, 2010

Bears Tailgating

Dan and I have been tailgating at Bears games for years. Recently Gerry began joining us for the home opener, bringing his awesome cooking skills to bear (Dan is no slouch, but Gerry and his brother are "off the hook").

So I was amused to find this article about Tim Shanley in the Chicago Tribune where he describes his weekend tailgate preparation. Shanley apparently has a bus, featured in the attached Tribune article, that he customized for tailgating. We have never seen his bus because he doesn't tailgate in the official lots - he goes to the McCormick place lots south of the stadium.

This guy's preparation for the game is intense. First of all, he doesn't even LIVE in Chicago - he flies up every weekend for the game (Dan drives down from Madison, which is nuts, but this guy takes it to another level). Here is the menu, from the article:
One day's menu: 20 pounds of Buffalo wings, 40 pounds of chicken thighs, 15 pounds of pork loin, 7 pounds of beef roast, 6 pounds of bacon, 20 pounds of pork chops and 3 beer can chickens, along with potato chips, a giant chocolate chip cookie and three pre-made sub sandwiches.

WOW. It doesn't say how he funds all of this in the article, but presumably people are chipping in or paying him as a business, because purchasing all of this must cost hundreds of dollars every game.

The CRAZIEST part, however, is this part of the article:
While about 50 people dig in, Shanley doesn't. In fact, he barely eats anything... about half the time, I end up eating a turkey sandwich inside Soldier Field.

I hope that he is bringing in that turkey sandwich (don't know if that is allowed or not, but it never occurred to me to try to bring food IN to Soldier Field, because I usually am so stuffed from eating in the parking lot) and not eating something prepared in Soldier Field, because the concessions at Bears' games are vile.

A funny part of the article describes how he cleans up after his bus in the McCormick lots because he doesn't want the park district to ban tailgating there.
Shanley is concerned that if the parking lot isn't left clean, McCormick will stop allowing tailgating, which would mean he and the other tailgaters would have to move to the Adler Planetarium lot. "And no one wants that" he said. "It's the hellhole tailgate spot in the NFL".

I had to laugh at this. In 2009 Dan and I were moved over to the Adler lot for the first time. On the one hand, snaking your way there across the stadium sucks, but it certainly has a nice view and isn't bad overall (easier to get out afterwords, too). I guess he means that the area where the buses are (see photo below) isn't so great, but it isn't a "hellhole" by any means. Old Soldier Field before renovation qualifies as a "hellhole", but not the Adler lot.


Dan from Madison said...

The Adler, I thought, was great. That game when we were on the "grassy knoll" with you and your three friends was spectacular. Tons of room to spread out, green grass, no bathroom lines, great view. Can't beat it. WAY better than the South Lot.

Carl from Chicago said...

Yes, this guy is nuts to call it a hellhole

also nuts not to eat food outside of the stadium

Dan from Madison said...

We always remember rule number one when going to a Bear game. Never, ever, ever under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES eat ANYTHING inside Soldier Field.

Jonathan said...

Sounds like it might be more fun to blow off the game and spend the whole time partying in the parking lot.

Dan from Madison said...

Funny you mention that Jonathan - many, many people used to do just exactly that. But the Bears/City had a fun crackdown a few years ago and decided to not allow that practice anymore.

Carl from Chicago said...

The people that partied in the lot the whole time are frequently featured by Dan and I in that most important site on the web - drunk bear fans - particularly "mayor daley" and "drunkn idiot" (his spelling)

Jack said...

I really enjoyed this article.

In Philadelphia, there is no such 'hellhole' parking lot- unless you define that as being any NFC East Rival (or new home to T.O.) who happens to want to tailgate *at* the Linc.

Do you guys find there are any foods specific to Chicago tailgaters that you can't find anywhere else?

Dan from Madison said...

Not really on the food. You always see everything on tailgate grills from simple brats and burgers to steak, chili, omletts, shrimp and whatever else. So nothing truly unique that I can think of, although some items I am sure are more popular at Bear tailgates like Italian beefs.

Anonymous said...

Hi, does anyone throw tailgate parties that people can pay to attend? We've got four crazy Canadians that are coming to Soldier for the Bears/Lions and we're looking for a party!

Dan from Madison said...

If you want a party, just walk around either the South Lot or Adler. You will find somthing.