Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls Basketball Tickets?
Opened: August 18, 1994
Capacity: 20,917 seats
Mascot: Benny the Bull
Dance Team: The Luvabulls
Team Chant: "Let's Go Bulls!"
Draft Beer: $7.50
Hot Dog: $5.75
1901 West Madison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60612
Arena Parking: $20.00
NBA Basketball Arena Review - The House that Jordan Built
Attending a Chicago Bulls game at the United Center, home of the six-time World Champion Chicago Bulls, has always been a dream of mine. As a teenager growing up in the 1990's in Buffalo, New York, I never had a hometown NBA team to follow. The Buffalo Braves came and left way before my time and I certainly was not about to hitch my sail the Los Angeles Clippers who were originally the Buffalo Braves. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was one of the many bandwagon jumpers that rode Michael Jordan's coattails to NBA championship glory on six separate occasions. Jordan's Bulls were unstoppable with him at the helm, bulldozing their way to six NBA titles and leaving pro basketball fans in awe of his ability to take over a game like few who had ever stepped on an NBA court before him or since. Michael Jordan is an icon, a supremely recognizable, larger than life figure that continues to be relevant in the world of professional sports long after his retirement. Getting to the United Center was my opportunity to relive past championship glory by setting foot into the hallow halls of the "House that Jordan Built".
As part of my Roundball Roadtrip, it's important to me to truly experience each NBA city as a fan of the home team. For fans of the Chicago Bulls, that experience involves getting some great food and sampling some of the locally brewed adult beverages of choice that are native to the area. Therefore, my Chicago Bulls Ultimate Fan Tour had to begin with a visit to the Billy Goat Tavern located just a few short blocks from the main gate of the United Center.
The Billy Goat Tavern is a legendary Chicago establishment immortalized by the late John Belushi on Saturday Night Live in which he poses as a short order cook rushing patrons through the line yelling out,"Cheezborger! Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!," a nod to the cook staff at the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago. Established in 1934, the Billy Goat Tavern is known throughout the Chicago area more for its role in "The Curse of the Billy Goat" also known as the "Cubs Curse". According to legend, Billy Goat Tavern owner, William "Billy Goat" Sianis, was denied entrance to Wrigley Field while accompanied by his goat, Murphy. Insulted and frustrated, Sianis appealed to Cubs owner, P.K. Wrigley, who also refused to let the goat enter. In response, Billy Goat Sianis placed a curse on the Chicago Cubs organization which would only be lifted when the Chicago Cubs do right by his goat. Prior to 1945 the Chicago Cubs were one of the most successful franchises in major league baseball, but since the curse they've been the perennial doormats, having been dubbed the "Lovable Losers". Many attempts have been made to lift the curse by Billy Goat Sianis's nephew, Sam Sianis, which have been temporarily successful, but each time the Cubs are on the brink of a World Series title, the organization forgets about Sam's goat and an eerie sequence of events leads to their demise (see Steve Bartman incident). My visit to the Billy Goat Tavern was curse-free, I paid homage to the stuffed goat in the corner, ordered up a famous "doublecheezborger", and even met Sam Sianis, who still hangs out on gameday to interact with patrons. The burger was excellent and I really liked the Billy Goat Dark on tap.
Still feeling the need to adequately lubricate myself and with plenty of time before tip-off, I wandered down Madison Street to check out a few more of the local watering holes. I was warned by several people that the area around the United Center in not one of the safest neighborhoods, but around gametime with fans scurrying from bar to bar there's plenty of local police keeping a watchful eye out. We made stops at the Bar Bistro and The Westend, which I highly recommend for pregame libations. The Chicago crowd is friendly and very knowledgeable on the game, always looking to debate the finer points of the NBA with a curious Roundball RoadTripper such as myself. After a few of the Goose Island beers (I really like the 312, Nightstalker, and Demolition) it was onto the United Center for the game.
As I said before, I am truly in awe of the United Center and what it represents to the Chicago faithful, so as I approached Gate 2, my jaw actually dropped as I finally set eyes on the 12-foot tall, bronze statue of the great Michael Jordan. Captured in mid flight, the statue shows Jordan soaring over opponents with a focus on the rim. I stopped for several pictures.
As a pro basketball facility the United Center impressed me most with its variety and quality of gameday concessions. There is truly something for every taste that's available on the menus located throughout the building. From Chicago Style Deep dish pizza to Tuscan grilled chicken sandwiches to smoked beef brisket and carved smoked turkey sandwiches, the United Center is cooking up an incredible assortment of options for basketball fans. The best thing on the menu has to be the Madhouse Burger however, which is comprised of a full sized cheeseburger topped with a polish sausage and a mountain of caramelized onions. As many of you know I have a cholesterol problem that Iíve actively monitoring, but I'm still highly recommending it Ö thatís good eating.
Stepping into the arena, there's a tangible aura, a regal presence that Michael Jordan left behind when he exited the building for the last time as a Chicago Bull. It's a legacy that has to be intimidating for any Chicago Bulls teams that are charged with continuing where Jordan left off, as night after night they look to the rafter at the six championship banners that hang inside the United Center. However, from what I saw for this current crop of Bulls, it appears that Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer seem to be up for the challenge. With the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on the docket, tonight's game was expected to be an easy win. Racing out to a 12 -2 lead to start the game off, the Bulls were surging, but Cleveland closed the gap to end the first quarter within two points of the Bulls. Then the Bulls, led by Derrick Rose's 24 points, began to rebuild their lead well into the third quarter, at which time they eased off the accelerator and allowed Cleveland to claw its way back into the game. By the end of the fourth the Bulls had eventually eased away from the LeBron-less Cavs and posted a solid 92 - 79 victory over Cleveland. The United Arena crowd was awesome and with a Bulls win, we resumed our celebration.