No matter where you live, the return of spring occupies a special place on the calendar each year. The sun is shining again, the days are getting longer, and the temperature is steadily rising. We’re all trading our puffy coats and scarves for short sleeves and sandals, and excitedly going about preparing to emerge once more into nice weather, blue skies, and outdoor fun. And for many of us, that means one thing: spring sports are back!
All of the above is true and then some in the great city of Chicago. Some cities are what they like to call “sports towns”—communities where the local teams just mean more, and cheering them on to victory is a rite of passage and a way of life. Without a doubt, Chicago is one of these towns. Combine this with the fact that springtime in Chicago can be a beautiful time of year, and you’ve got a winning combination. If you’re going to be visiting the Windy City this spring, here’s a quick primer on spring sports in Chicago.
Competing in the National League of Major League Baseball since 1876, the Chicago Cubs are one of baseball’s iconic brands, and a visit to their home stadium since 1916, the inimitable Wrigley Field, is akin to a holy pilgrimage for hardcore fans of the sport. Baseball’s marathon-like, 162-game schedule means there are plenty of chances to check out the Cubs throughout the year, but there’s no time quite like the spring to catch a game, when the outfield walls fabled ivy is just starting to come in and the fanbase is still excited by the promise of a new season.
But, if you’re in town on an off-day, don’t worry, just consider going on a tour of historic Wrigley Field. You’ll have incredible access to behind-the-scenes aspects of the stadium, and you can cap off your visit by exploring the electric Wrigleyville neighborhood, which has boomed in recent years with new restaurants and stores going up seemingly weekly. Plus, it’ll be less hectic to be out and about on a non-game day!
Chicago White Sox
Often unfairly overshadowed by their neighbors to the north, the Chicago White Sox have their own long, rich history to trumpet, too: first established as a club in 1900, they were one of the American League’s original franchises, and have three championship titles to their name, with the most recent coming in 2005. A fixture on Chicago’s South Side, the White Sox play their home games at Guaranteed Rate Field, which first opened its doors in 1991. It has undergone extensive renovations over the past 30 years, and stands today as a pleasant place to catch a game.
If you’re able to catch a game at Guaranteed Rate Field this season, be sure to keep an eye out for some of its unique features. Probably the stadium’s trademark feature would have to be the gigantic pinwheels that tower over the center-field scoreboard and light up spectacularly every time a Sox hitter smacks a home run. There are also a number of statues and plaques located throughout the concourses that honor White Sox legends from throughout their long history.
Soccer is truly the world’s sport, and as a world-class city, Chicago is not hurting for options on that sporting front either. Chicago Fire Football Club is the city’s beloved soccer team, having won some six major trophies in just 25 years of existence. Notable players who have suited up for the “Men in Red” include World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mexican international Cuauhtémoc Blanco, and well-known soccer radio host Eric Wynalda.
The Fire play their home games at another one of Chicago’s iconic stadiums (Noticing a trend here? We told you it’s a sports town!), the historic Soldier Field. This legendary venue has stood, in one form or another, alongside Chicago’s gorgeous waterfront for a century now (it’s also home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears). Soldier Field is part of Chicago’s famous Museum Campus, which includes such popular attractions as the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium, and is also located not too far from Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain. All this is to say, there’s a lot to do in the area beyond just attending a soccer match!
Chicago Red Stars
Women’s professional soccer in the United States has an extensive and proud tradition of excellence and achievement, and the Chicago Red Stars have been there for all of it, every step of the way. The Red Stars were first established as a founding member of the Women’s Professional Soccer league, and transitioned into the brand-new National Women’s Soccer League in 2013, where they are a perennial playoff team regularly vying for the championship title.
The Chicago Red Stars play their home matches at the charming SeatGeek Stadium, located in Bridgeview, Illinois, just southwest of downtown Chicago. Some notable players that have suited up for the Red Stars include current Chelsea Football Club star Samantha Kerr, England international midfielder Karen Carney, and United States national team standout Julie Ertz.
Okay, okay, so it’s the case that this particular article is about looking ahead to spring sports in Chicago. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that two of Chicago’s winter sports fixtures, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, are still technically playing games each and every year until at least mid-April (if not longer, in years when either or both qualify for the playoffs). Which is another great sports option to keep in mind as you plan your spring visit to Chicago!
When in doubt . . .
. . . take advantage of your springtime visit to Chicago to get outside and stretch your legs firsthand. Whether you want to rent a bike from a vendor near Millennium Park, take a boat cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, explore one of the city’s fabulous public parks, or simply go for a stroll along Chicago’s unparalleled Lakefront Trail, it’s hard to beat the lovely spring activities available in Chicago.