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BigTen Tournament - Chicago Edition

  • Thinking about hitting up the Big10 basketball tournament this year. I went a few years ago in Indy.

    Any hints overall on where to stay and how to handle the event in Chicago? Especially the ticket buying. StubHub prices seem way high right now.

    This post was edited by RQA 13 months ago

  • I would wait to buy tickets, particularly if you're hoping to buy single session tickets. Last year they weren't released until late February. Here's the price per session from last year:

    Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (single-session ticket pricing):
    Session 1 (First Rd.; two games beginning at 11:30 a.m.) - Thurs., March 8 - ($20-$40)
    Session 2 (First Rd.; two games beginning at 5:30 p.m.) - Thurs., March 8 - ($20-$40)
    Session 3 (Quarterfinals; two games beginning at Noon) - Fri., March 9 - ($40-$70)
    Session 4 (Quarterfinals; two games beginning at 6:30 p.m.) - Fri., March 9 - ($40-$70)
    Session 5 (Semifinals; two games beginning at 1:40 p.m.) - Sat., March 10 - ($45-$80)
    Session 6 (Championship Game; beginning at 3:30 p.m.) - Sun., March 11 - ($45-$80)

    I'm assuming the prices on Stubhub might go down initially once the actual tickets are released on Ticketmaster and the bracket starts to take shape. I also know some places to park for free around the United Center. But some people feel more comfortable taking the train in because it's not necessarily the best part of Chicago.

  • Yeah definitely stay downtown. Stay as close to Madison st as you can. Then you can just take the #20 bus directly there and back.

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  • Phil McCrackin

    This.
    The United Center is a few blocks from the Blue or Green line el stops. They also have a #19 United Center express bus that runs from Michigan/Randolph to the arena. Check www.transitchicago.com for info.
    I've taken the bus to UC for Bulls and Blackhawks games and it is always easy.

    I would avoid driving. Public trans is cheap and fast. Traffic during evening rush from the loop/river north to/from UC will be a mess, and parking at UC is neither cheap nor convenient.

  • The last time the tournament was in Chicago they had free shuttle buses running from the United Center to Michigan Avenue.

  • I went to Indy last year and it was awesome, how does Chicago compare for the B1G Tourny?

  • Looking at ticketmaster, it says only a limited number of all-session passes available. Anyone have any idea if they hold some back for single session sales?

    I was hoping just to get the Saturday session. Pretty pricey on the secondary websites right now.

  • Phil McCrackin

    I think Indy is better suited for this event, though I love it being in Chicago because I live here.

    Indy is small enough that the tournament takes over the entire city, plus you can walk from all the bars/hotels to the arena, and it's all in the downtown area.

    In Chicago, this is not the case. The United Center is west of the loop, most hotels are miles away, bars are spread out all over the city, etc. Once you leave the United Center and immediate vicinity, you'd have no idea that the tournament is even going on.

  • What's the switch off for Indy and Chicago? Is it every other year?

  • Phil McCrackin

    I think they will sell single session tickets to the general public sometime in the next few weeks.

    It looks like there are only a few hundred single session tickets available on stub hub. I'm hoping that if/when the rest of them are released for sale, the prices come way down.

  • Phil McCrackin

    No idea. It was in Indy for several years in a row, so not necessarily every-other.

  • Big Doug

    I don't expect any of the sessions to sell out in the United Center, the Illini aren't good & The UC seats roughly 3000 more than Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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  • This is a thread where I really need the multi-quote option. I'll try to hit all the topics. I've been to every tournament since March 2002. I always buy the entire package and go for the entire weekend, no matter what happens with MSU. I've probably missed 5 minutes of game time total over the year (security was awful one year getting into Conseco the first day)

    TICKETS: Each school gets about 1,300 tickets (1,300 x 12 schools = 15,600 tickets) At the United Center, that leaves about 5,000 seats not accounted for by each school. Of those seats, you have to factor in tickets that the B1G takes for special people from the B1G. The majority of full weekend packages that are available initially through Ticketmaster are awful upper level seats that weren't in the originally packages given to each school. The single session tickets that will be available later on as schools like Penn State, Nebraska, and others return some of their allotment of tickets and the B1G sells off the extra tickets that were returned.

    LOCATION: For the first 4 years, the tournament was in Chicago. Then they alternated between Chicago and Indianapolis for 6 years. That was followed by Indianapolis hosting for 5 years. The next four years will alternate between the two cities. The United Center holds almost 3,000 people more than Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco Fieldhouse). As part of the deal to be in Indianapolis the last 5 years, the city of Indianapolis actually paid the Big Ten to make up the difference in lost ticket revenue (not like the United Center is always a sell out, but it was part of the deal with Bankers Life and the city of Indianapolis to host for 5 straight years). The B1G will evaluate things again in a couple years.

    PREFERENCE: I preface this by saying I love the city of Chicago and spent a lot of time there as a kid because of family I had in the area (some lived downtown in high rise condos, some lived out in the suburbs, brother now lives on the north side). Indianapolis is 10,000 times better for the Big Ten Tournament. In Indianapolis, I park my car and Wednesday evening and I can walk everywhere the entire weekend. You can walk to the games, walk to the bars, walk to dinner, etc, etc, etc. In Chicago, I've always stayed downtown. One year we attempted to take the shuttle bus they run for free and it was a disaster. We waited almost an hour to get on a bus. Not sure if you've ever been in the United Center's neighborhood at 11 PM as the last 20 people leaving the United Center or not, but it's not something I'd want to do again. So after that we always drove out for the day and paid to park. Much less hassle. We've talked about taking the actual Chicago bus instead of the shuttle bus this year, but time will tell. I would guess the old man and I will just end up driving out to the UC every day and paying to park.

    Another huge hassle in Chicago that doesn't come up much is that they kick you out of the arena on Thursday and Friday for about 90 minutes (between the first two games and the last two games...each set of games is a different session). In Indy, this is no big deal. You can hit at least 15 different bars and find a beer (or food) pretty easily. In Chicago, there is nowhere you want to go near the United Center, except for the new Billy Goat's Tavern and maybe The Ogden. Neither one is large enough to really handle the 10,000 people who are going to get kicked out for 90 minutes and are looking for a place to have a drink or get some food.

    Also, for this year, the B1G Tournament is St. Patrick's Day weekend. Chicago will be absolutely crazy. Finding dinner on Saturday that doesn't have a 2 hour wait will be really difficult. We learned the last time we were in Chicago (it's just two of us that go together every year) that no one wanted to take a reservation for a party of 2 and I'm sure it'll only be worse this year. In Indy, we often had an hour wait for dinner on Saturday night if we didn't make a reservation, but the city went out of their way to accommodate the B1G fans. I'd guess half or more of the bars and restaurants in downtown Chicago don't even know the B1G Tournament is happening (They'll be much more concerned with the St Patrick's crowds).

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • Yeah, it was supposed to more or less stop by all the different hotels where the teams were staying and figured they'd hit most of the major areas to stay downtown. Getting to the games was fine...getting home was a huge hassle if you don't leave the last game early

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • Oh, one more thing to add to the above long post.

    If you have the financial means to go, you should go. Even with my hatred of it being in Chicago compared to Indy (Indy is just so much better in every way), I have had more amazing experiences at the Big Ten Tournament the last 11 years than I can ever begin to list. My Dad (64 years old) and I live 7 hours apart (by car) and we don't see each other a ton. We always make a long weekend out of the tournament as a good Father-Son trip and eventually when I have kids, I plan to take them once they're old enough. Even if he lives in Wisconsin and is a Badger fan, I can't really argue with the ridiculous seats we get every year because of his company's work with the University of Wisconsin. If you're there this year, we'll be the father-son combo sitting in the first 10 rows of the Wisconsin section (He'll be in Red, I'll be in Green...we're not hard to miss)

    Over the years, here are a few of the highlights. There are so many to name, I could go on for hours. These are just 5 or 6 of the best.

    - Got drunk with Gene Keady in Indianpolis. We ran into him at the Rock Bottom Brewery. 6 beers later, he had to go. He paid the tab then dropped $100 bill on the bar and told the bartender to buy our drinks until we left and whatever was left was just an extra tip for her. Love or hate his personality on the sideline, Gene is a class act.

    - Had drinks at The Hard Rock Cafe with Paul Keels, the play-by-play guy for Ohio State football and basketball. I believe that was 2008 and it was the night before MSU beat OSU in the 4-5 match-up on Friday. Good guy and was very, very complimentary of Tom Izzo (and not so complimentary of Bo Ryan).

    - Met a bartender at the original Claddagh Irish Pub in Indy who had our beers pouring from the tap before we even sat down at the bar (probably didn't hurt that we stayed at The Omni just down the road and were in Claddagh for our first and last beer of the day every day of the tournament the last 5 years)

    - Numerous ridiculous game winning shots. Evan Turner beating Michigan with a 35 foot bomb in 2010. Blake Hoffarber with a jumper in 2008 to beat Indiana in Indianapolis.

    - Last year the MSU Student section started chanting "Go Maroon! Go Gold!" as Minnesota played Michigan tough into overtime (also didn't hurt that the idiots at the B1G put those two student sections right next to each other)

    - Seeing tRCMB poster Big Doug everywhere!

    - The best memory though, is just all the quality time with my old man. I'll always remember the games, but I'll remember the conversations and time with my Dad more. As he gets older, I make sure to enjoy every minute of the weekend with him because you never know when he might not be able to go more.

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • It'll be really interesting to see what happens.

    - Any session Indiana is in will have a lot of people there as their fans travel decently for basketball.
    - I would think OSU will still have a strong showing.
    - Illinois is spiraling out of control right now, but they might still have a decent showing with all the Illinois grads in the Chicago area, but I doubt they play on the weekend.
    - Lots of MSU and UofM grads in the area to buy up tickets, especially if either team plays on Friday night.

    In 2005, sessions 2, 4 and 5 were all sell-outs, with each of those sessions including the #1 seed Illini that year. (of note, that was probably the most disappointing tournament for MSU fans as we lost to Iowa int he quarterfinals...they made up for it in the NCAA tournament)

    In 2007, only one session sold out at the UC and that was session 3, which would have been the Friday night session (Indiana vs Illinois and MSU vs Wisconsin)

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • Big Doug

    Goud has it right. the B1G is the place to be, however I always scalp tickets and just attend the sessions that I want.

    You can and do run into many B1G Ten celebs, cool alums, & several folks that we tend to see every year.

    It will be interesting to see how Chicago handle the return of this event. Indy is great, but I always enjoyed Chicago too.

    The bar situation outside the UC is awful outside of the Billy Goat. I hope it has improved. Hopefully someone will have a heated beer tent on or near the premises, that would help between sessions.

    One bonus to the UC is that it does have one operating bar inside of it, & man is it crowded, but fun. Just urinate before you enter it because if you leave to take a leak you will be standing in line awhile to get back in, no matter who you are.

    This post was edited by Big Doug 14 months ago

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  • Yeah, I know lots of people that do that as well.

    Over the years, do you think you've saved money doing this over buying the ticket package from MSU (or somewhere else that you might have access to tickets?) Have you ever been shut out of any session that you wanted to attend?

    I can imagine there are lots of cheap tickets available for Thursdays games as most of the teams playing don't expect to be there long and don't have many fans in attendance. I just always worry about what I might end up paying for Saturday tickets or Championship tickets if MSU ends up having to play IU, Illinois, or OSU (the 3 schools that I think have the most fans in attendance year in and year out)

    I'm always curious about it, but if I'm only saving $30, I figure I have access to great seats every year and it's kind of nice to know where I'm sitting when I wake up every morning and not have to worry about finding tickets for every session

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • Thanks for all the good info. Decided to come join the fun. Will be especially awesome for me because I haven't been to any sporting event with my dad since msu played at northwestern in 07.

  • Big Doug

    If I had access to nice lowers & chose to attend all sessions, I would probably go that route as well, however, I do not. Yes I have been shut out of sessions, but I can enjoy myself on a bar stool with the savings as well. It beats workin'.

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  • Just going to piggyback on this thread, but does either the UC or Indy serve alcohol for the tournament, or does the Big Ten have rules against this?

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  • I'll go Friday if the Badgers have an evening game, and sunday if they make it that far, but that Saturday is when the city of Chicago celebrates St. Pat's and it's usually a really damn good time. Add some warm weather and it's awesome.

  • I don't know the answer to that, but the other option is just to bring a couple plastic flasks and mix yourself up some dranks.

  • Neither serve alcohol in the general seating areas. You can get alcohol in the suites and I believe there is one bar in the United Center that is operational during the games as well.

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • If you do, hide them well. The last couple Big Ten Tournaments I've gone through almost full pat downs on the way in (including around the waist and they wanted to look at my ankles). Seems dumb to me, but they made everyone do it in Indy. Maybe the United Center will be different.

    And if the good Lord’s willin’, I’m a keep on chillin’, refillin’ and flyin’ high

  • God dammit, I thought it was the weekend before and I had tix in the suite through work for Thurs-Fri. I'm out of the country and will miss it (and the first weekend of the tourny)