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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Allstate Arena is one of the best examples of a "multi-use facility." Those words make me cringe as it is sort of the equivalent of "jack-of-all-trades, master of none." When compared to what you can expect from the DePaul men's basketball game experience, this is easily the better option.
The Chicago Sky were founded in 2006, and have missed the playoffs in their first five seasons of existence. That tide seems to be changing however, and the Sky may begin to grow their following in the competitive Chicago market.
One of my challenges in writing this review was separating between the team and the venue. A lot of the experience suffers due to what I perceive to be incorrect price points (more on that throughout), but many of those decisions are controlled by the facility and not the team. The bottom line is if you need your basketball during the summer months, or want to see women playing the game at the top level, then this is an experience you will want to see.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
About half of the food stands are closed during a Sky game. Your best bet will be going for a slice of Connie's deep dish pizza ($6.50). Other options include the Italian sausage ($6.50), jumbo hot dog ($5.50), Philly cheesesteak ($8), grilled chicken ($8), or cheeseburger ($8). They are all overpriced and you will be left feeling less than satisfied.
Pepsi is the soda vendor of choice at Allstate Arena. A regular soda goes for $5, or you can make it a souvenir-sized cup for $1 more. If you would like an alcoholic beverage, then you can grab a Budweiser or Bud Light ($7) or go for the "premium" Shock Top ($8). Mixed drinks, wine, margaritas, and mai tais are here at prices ranging from $7-$15.
One thing that the Sky does that is really smart is that they close the upper deck if expected attendance is low enough to making the seating unnecessary. This can make a small crowd feel larger and more intimate. Allstate Arena has good acoustics with the wood paneling that covers the arena, so concentrating the fans is important. Add in the Sky Drumline, and you help to create a raucous, almost collegiate atmosphere.
Seating at Allstate Arena is not great. The leg room is below average, and a seat in the first five rows just means you get a folding chair with no cupholder. Unless you are sitting courtside, your best view of the game is from a row with a letter (row A is the first row of affixed seats). Aim for section 101 or 102 to land at center court.
The scoreboard offers live views of the action, but I didn't ever see a replay "" making the view unnecessary. Otherwise, the scoreboard offers time and score, as well as the uniforms of the players on the floor with their points and fouls on the night. The Sky offer free programs for each game, so if you are unfamiliar with the team, you can check to see who is on the floor.
The other can't miss attraction is the McDonald's Fly Kids - an acrobatics team with kids ranging from ages 5-18. They do everything from jump rope tricks to flips to trampoline jumps. They are worth staying in your seat for the start of halftime.
Chain restaurants abound when you are in the suburbs and near a major airport. Across the street from Allstate Arena you can find a Chipotle, Panda Express, Steak & Shake, IHOP, Starbucks, Potbelly's, and Subway.
On this evening, I decided to try Cafe La Cave, a fairly upscale restaurant with French and Italian influences. In case your French is not the best, "La Cave" translates as "The Cave." Pretty unbelievable, I know. The theme is that dining room appears to be a cave, and I guess it accomplishes its goal. Entrees range from $22-$43, and while food was good, it was a little more than I wanted to spend. They did cook my Steak au Poivre perfectly, but overall the place is probably better before a show than a sporting event.
My favorite place in the area for good food and more of a sports experience is Harry Caray's. They have great steaks and burgers, and a good selection of other bar favorites.
I was told that this was one of the smaller crowds for the year. Looking at past attendance, a typical game will have somewhere between 6,000-7,000 fans. Even with the diminished crowd, they were engaged throughout, cheering on baskets, getting on the refs, and doing what you expect of good fans at any game. They came to their feet when Cathrine Kraayeveld made a steal and three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half. The team won the game in double overtime, and most fans stayed for the whole exciting battle. Overall, it was an energetic bunch, and better than what I expected.
I was really surprised to see an $11 price tag on the parking when I arrived. My guess going in is that parking would be free, or maybe as high as $5. This was a shock, and it is a mistake that must turn away fans when making the decision on whether or not to attend a Chicago Sky game at Allstate Arena. This is a decision of the facility, and not the team, and it is something that requires serious consideration.
Concourses are wide inside the arena, and restrooms are very large, so you should never expect a line, and there is no need to miss any action. The restrooms are a bit outdated however, and could use some upgrades with infrared sensors and hand dryers that don't take 2 minutes to do the job.
Chicago traffic is common in the area, but you should have no trouble finding the arena, just off of I-90. Rush hour traffic will be the norm when traveling to the game, but leaving will typically be problem-free.
Tickets start at $15, with the center court seats I recommended costing $30. Floor seats will cost you $115, with floor seats near each bench going for a whopping $225. There are several group options or ticket packages to make the trip a little more affordable. Overall though, while I think the experience delivers from an entertainment perspective, everything is just a little too expensive. When you factor is the price of a drink, something to eat, parking and your ticket, then you end up with a price tag around $50-$60. That's a bit much.
The Chicago Sky mascot, Sky Guy, does a great job of interacting with the crowd, and doing just about everything from throwing t-shirts to helping sweep the floor.
On the Chicago Sky website, they set the expectation by saying that this is "more than just a game... from start to finish enjoy the non-stop entertainment that's Chicago Sky basketball." I have to say that I agree with that statement, as the entertainment really does continue throughout.
This was my first WNBA game, and it is something I will definitely do again. It is a great experience for basketball fans that need their fix of basketball during the June-November off season, and it is great opportunity for families, especially young girls, to see the potential athletics for women. If you haven't yet seen the WNBA, and you are in the Chicago area, then this is a good trip to make. Just be sure to bring a little extra cash.
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10233 W Higgins Rd
Rosemont, IL 60018
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