Many people don’t realize the complexities surrounding tailgating. This is especially the case for tailgating in Chicago because it is such a big city. With big city populations come big city intricacies like traffic, parking and guidelines. Recognizing the rules of the road with tailgating in Chicago can ensure a fun and memorable outing rather than a stressful one.
1. Thou shall know the parking rules. Chicago has strict parking guidelines for Bears home games. Guaranteed parking spots for tailgating can be found in the South Lot or Waldron Deck with a parking pass only. Cash parking lots are located at the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium Lot, Burnham Harbor and the 31st Street parking Lot. Street parking is available in the surrounding neighborhoods around Soldier Field but there are strict residential borders. Those not confined to the designated areas can be ticketed or towed.
2. Thou shall be aware of traffic. Driving in Chicago comes with a variety of unexpected delays. Whether it’s from the suburbs or inside the city, there are inevitable delays to be aware of. It’s important to be conscious of traffic information for your tailgating adventure. Traffic news will inform of any construction, detours, road blocks or accidents that might slow down your commute.
3. Thou shall arrive early. For those with parking passes, arriving early will allow time for setup. The cash parking lots do not have a reservation system and purchase on game days can get hectic. The general information for tailgate parking in these cash parking lots is to arrive four to five hours prior to kickoff. However, arriving earlier than the suggested time gives you a better chance of obtaining the most convenient spot for your tailgating needs.
4. Thou shall know the rules. There are strict rules surrounding tailgating for Soldier Field games. Canopies, open and deep fryers are banned and so is any alcohol around or heading into Soldier Field. This is important to know so that you aren’t ticketed on game day. Also, it helps from bringing unusable items.
5. Thou shall dress appropriately. Chicago is known for extremes in weather. Whether it’s the scorching summers or the brutal winters, weather is something that should be accounted for. It’s important to be up-to-date on weather information on game day. It’s also a good idea to bring extra gear for unexpected weather conditions.
6. Thou shall have a list. Although tailgating is meant to be a fun event, it is also something that involves a lot of preparation. Preparation is key in ensuring nothing is forgotten. Keeping a list of your essentials is crucial in preparing for the game. Keep a list of everything needed and make sure to check items off as you load up to tailgate.
7. Thou shall bring utensils. When people think of tailgating food, the majority of items that come to mind are handheld. However, there are many tailgating dishes that need utensils. Whether it’s tongs for flipping burgers or spoons for tailgate chili, utensils will definitely be needed. Make sure to bring enough for your tailgating entourage to make the most of the eating experience.
8. Thou shall bring paper goods. Paper plates and bowls are essential to tailgating in Chicago. There are some tailgating recipes that don’t need a plate, like the “walking taco.” However, the majority of tailgating food requires plates and bowls for convenience. Make sure there’s enough to go around so no one is left out on game day.
9. Thou shall be clean. Tailgating food is renowned for being messy and hard to eat. The sloppy ingredients of tacos or the abundance of condiments can call for some heavy-duty cleaning of your face and hands. Make sure to bring plenty of napkins and paper towels to keep hands and faces free of stickiness. It’s also a good idea to bring a pack of wipes or sanitizer for the griminess of the day.
10. Thou shall be courteous. A huge part of tailgating in Chicago is the camaraderie among its fans. With many tailgaters coming back year after year, it’s important to be courteous in terms of space. Disposing of garbage is vital in maintaining an agreeable relationship with neighbors. A simple pop-up trash can is a convenient and courteous way to keep garbage from being intrusive on your tailgating neighbor.
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.