Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blackhawks-Penguins NHL Stadium Series game

This past Saturday night Adam and I attended the much-anticipated Blackhawks-Penguins NHL Stadium Series game at Soldier Field.

Mother Nature obliged by putting forth her finest weather conditions:

Translation: spending the evening sitting in the uncovered upper deck of an outdoor football stadium in frigid temperatures, icy winds, and blizzard conditions. Sounds like a blast, doesn't it?

Given this prognosis, I did the best that I could to prepare. Here is what I wore:
  • 3 pairs of socks (compression socks, then two other pairs of socks on top) plus my winter boots
  • Running tights underneath a pair of jeans
  • 2 long-sleeved winter running shirts, a running jacket, my winter jacket, and a Blackhawks jersey
  • Balaclava, scarf, ski hat, and Blackhawks knit hat
  • 2 pairs of gloves
Adam and I also brought two blankets, plus some cardboard pieces to sit on and to put underneath our feet.

"Shapeless blob" is the way that I would describe how I looked and felt wearing that quantity of layers. To illustrate, it was kind of like this:

(Note that the shapeless blob was wearing red to represent the Blackhawks)

On the bus ride enroute to Soldier Field, it was really easy to identify which passengers were headed to the game. Many were wearing full-body ski suits and masks with their jerseys. Plenty of other hockey fans had successfully achieved similarly shapeless blobdom as I did.

After we arrived at Soldier Field, we went to check out the NHL Fan Festival being held next to the stadium.

The stage where they had live music performers.
Dueling Stanley Cup ring hats
Adam and I cross-representing our two favorite teams.
Left: A giant Blackhawks jersey!
Right: A giant Penguins jersey!

Fans getting into the spirit of things

We played some Blackhawks and Penguins trivia games, checked out a few merchandise stands, and collected a random assortment of sponsor giveaways (Advil, Shamrock Shake coupons, and Geico water bottles, to name a few). Then we went through the stadium security lines to enter Soldier Field.

It wasn't much warmer inside the Soldier Field concourses compared to outdoors. Unfortunately, our seats were in the upper deck of the north end zone where there was exactly zero protection from the elements. We reluctantly climbed the stairs towards the upper deck. The wind was howling and the snowfall was steadily increasing. Once we got to our seats, we immediately decided it would be best to go back inside and stay there as long as possible.

The indoor bathrooms were heated and were by far the warmest area in the entire building. Therefore, Adam and I decided to go hang out in our respective bathrooms and meet back up in a few minutes. Plenty of other women were standing around in the ladies room just trying to keep warm. Adam said the same was true in the men's room.

The time came to go to our seats. Here are some pictures from where we were sitting:


One of the scoreboards behind us

As the pregame ceremonies and the game got underway, the snow came down in buckets. It made visibility very challenging. Our seats were far away and high up to begin with, so it would have been difficult to see the game even in clear conditions. It was like watching an ant farm.

Additionally, numerous fans were standing up and blocking what limited view many folks did have. This elicited some raucous shouting for everyone to sit down. The standees generally ignored them. As time went on, the demands to sit down became progressively more and more comical and/or derisive. If my own view wasn't being blocked, it would have been almost entertaining to listen to some of the exchanges.

Despite all the layers I was wearing, it was so cold that I had no feeling in my hands or feet. My blanket, jeans, gloves, and balaclava were all getting wet from the snow, too.

The snow

Game attendance was announced at over 62,000. During the intermissions, the entire crowd (men and women alike) made a mad dash to the concourses, food/beverage vendors, and especially the warmth of the bathrooms. When you've got pretty much the entire population crammed into a concourse all at once, many of them inebriated, things can get pretty squishy. Basically, you really need to make sure that you keep your balance!

I've made it blatantly obvious that my most lasting memory of this game is going to be the weather. But that aside, it was a unique experience getting to be a part of 62,000+ screaming hockey fans gathered under the outdoor lights. Blackhawks fans have the long-time tradition of cheering and clapping as loudly as they can during the national anthem at home games, and to see that tradition in action at Soldier Field was cool. It was also fun to see the masses celebrating, singing, and dancing to Chelsea Dagger whenever the Hawks scored a goal.

Hawks win! Hawks win!

The final count for the night?

Zero discussions of the doom scenario (believe it or not), despite the game being played by...
Two of my favorite NHL teams
Five degrees Fahrenheit (the real-feel temperature during the game)
Six goals scored by Hawks players, including one in the wrong net
45 minutes, give or take, that I spent huddling for warmth in the ladies room over the course of the night
62,921 rabid fans in attendance
97,836,523,314 gallons of hot chocolate that I consumed when I got home

O come, all ye hot chocolate...


  1. I am SO IMPRESSED that you guys stuck it out. That is crazy. Jason and I were at Jak's Tap before the game started watching the pre-game stuff on the televisions and even the commentators looked pretty miserable :-)

    1. LOL, thanks, Erin! I'm actually not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that we did - maybe we are just certifiably nuts! I did feel bad for some of the commentators, too, especially the ones at ice level. At least the spectators had the option of leaving whenever they wanted to - but the commentators had no choice but to stick it out!!!

  2. I am so out of it, I did not realize the Blackhawks were playing an outdoor game until I happened to be flipping channels and saw it! Kind of crazy conditions, but very cool that you guys made it through the whole game and did not once talk about the "doom scenario"!

    1. Thanks Pete. Honestly, when the game date was announced for March 1, I was actually thinking that the weather might be too warm by that date for an outdoor hockey game. Imagine that, eh? Mother Nature sure showed me! Is it spring yet!?!?!?

  3. See, cold weather running actually has another application - dressing for outdoor sporting events! I was so surprised that the game was being held AT NIGHT! In the winter? In Chicago?! Honestly, who thought of that?

    I watched most of the game on TV - I kept getting a kick out of the shoveling breaks!

    Hehe, the "doom scenario." I grew up a Red Wings fan and did root for them the first few times I watched them play the Hawks with Bob.... but the Hawks ARE really good, and anymore I watch more of their games than Detroit's. So I'd be okay with either outcome, should that happen. I think the doom would really come if the Tigers ever did face-off against the Cubs in the WS (that's a massive "if"). Obviously the Tigers would win, which would probably not make my resident Cubs fan happy.

    (Oh and speaking of Bob, I posted his enchilada sauce recipe last night if you want it!)

    1. LOL, I was indeed thinking that when I was pulling on all those layers that so much of the clothing was running gear. It's always nice to get multiple uses out of our running stuff!

      And yes, you bring up what a lot of folks were questioning with the planning of the game. At the end of the day, the game was a way for the NHL to turn a profit - and both the Blackhawks and Penguins fan bases are strong enough to make it happen, no matter the conditions. Adam was saying that the NHL should have moved the game start into the afternoon, when the weather wasn't nearly as bad. But, that would have meant giving up a primetime NBC TV broadcast. (The horrors, right?)

      Even though the Hawks and Wings have a huge rivalry, I have a lot of respect for the Wings. They are a classy team that does things the right way. I am glad that even with your Wings roots, you'd be okay with either team claiming victory over the other! And yeah, I can relate to the Cubs-Tigers being a huge doom scenario for you! But I STRONGLY agree that that would be a HUGE "IF." Honestly, you'll probably never have to worry about it. =D

      Yes, I did see that you posted Bob's enchilada sauce last night, thank you so much! I read through it but haven't had the chance yet to comment. Can't wait to try it out!!! =)

  4. Even as cold as it was...I'm still envious :)

    It was my son's seventh birthday. We looked into very ng family tickets as a celebration but the price and the uncertainty of the weather were deal breakers for us....

    1. *getting. Not sure what very ng is lol...

    2. Happy birthday to your son, turning the BIG SEVEN!!! I hope you and your family had a wonderful celebration!

      Honestly, I think you were much better off not going to the game. It was really miserable for the adults, and I can only imagine how a child would have felt. You know that I am as rabid a Hawks fan as you'll ever find out there - but I could do it over, I probably would have chosen not to go. I think that even now I am still trying to thaw out from those conditions! =D

  5. That game was epic, classic Chicago Blackhawks. Crazy weather aside, I'm glad you went. The Caveman and Thing 1 went to the Bears/Packers game in similar weather (no snow thankfully). It seems as though it is impossible to dress warm enough in conditions like those.

    1. Thanks, Marcia! Epic, classic Chicago Blackhawks is a great way to describe it! I really can't comprehend all those Bear fans in December that will still go tailgate and watch games at Soldier Field. One experience like this was enough for me. Your husband and child must have had quite the stories to tell from that Bears/Packers game! And you are absolutely right - I do not know how much more I could have done to dress warmly enough that night. Too bad they don't allow portable space heaters, eh?

  6. Oh man, that is SO cool you got to go to this. What a neat event, even with being freezing and not seeing anything! I think it's such a cool idea that they played outside. This is new... right?!

    1. Thanks, Kim! Indeed, the night was definitely much more about the fan atmosphere and the backdrop instead of the actual game. The NHL used to only do one of these outdoor games a year on New Year's Day (the Hawks played Detroit outdoors at Wrigley Field a few years ago). But, the outdoor events were so popular that the NHL decided this year to host a bunch of outdoor games in various cities across North America (even in Los Angeles!) It'll be interesting to see what they decide to do in future years!

  7. The whole thing almost makes me think of a Christmas Market. Just sub out all the Christmas-y stuff for hockey stuff. They both have cold and crowds, but are kind of totally worth it. As freezing and slightly miserable as that looks, it also looks kind of awesome!

    1. A Christmas Market is a terrific comparison! In both events, the crowd is filled with folks donning festive attire (some more than others). There are opportunities to get your photo taken with special guests. And for both, it's definitely much more about the atmosphere and the spirit than anything else! And slightly more alcohol gets consumed at an NHL event, LOL.

  8. You are a TRUE Blackhawks fan! I would not have been outside watching the game.