can have,” she said. “It’s a way for groups to
be part of the action—they’ll have views of
Wrigley Field and of the city, too.”
Chicago is home to facilities that host
teams for every major league brand, from
MLB’s Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley
Field to the NBA’s Chicago Bulls at the
“From a meeting planner perspective,
this assures almost any time of the year
while a meeting is going on in Chicago,
there is an option of a major league sports
team in town playing,” said Choose Chicago’s Whitaker.
He added that while no sports facility is
more famous than Wrigley Field, there is
excitement brewing over the soon-to-open
10,000-seat Wintrust Arena. The future
home of DePaul University’s Blue Demons
basketball team will be connected to both
McCormick Place and the new Marriott
Marquis Chicago, which should also be
open by year’s end.
“It’s generating a lot of new buzz about
event options for our existing and new
clients,” Whitaker said.
Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago
Bears, is also buzzing, as it—and the city—
was awarded the bid to host the 2017 MLS
All-Star Game in August.
Soldier Field offers a variety of spaces,
both inside and outside, for all types of special events, including meetings, tradeshows
and galas, according to Luca Serra, its
director of sponsorship and media.
“Our indoor club spaces are uniquely designed with high vaulted ceilings, historic
columns and lakeside views,” he said, and
added the space is ideal for large sit-down
banquets and receptions.
Serra also mentioned that any integration with a Chicago Bears game needs to
be arranged with the Bears organization,
but that for all non-Bears events, including
concerts and other sports games, planners
can facilitate pre-event space, an executive
suite and a tour of the stadium directly with
Similarly, at Guaranteed Rate Field,
which was renamed in November from U.S.
Cellular Field, planners must work directly
with MLB’s Chicago White Sox to facilitate
group parties on game days.
According to Lou Bertuca, CEO of Guaranteed Rate Field, they can also arrange for a
customized scoreboard greeting and have a
group attendee throw out the first pitch.
There is also a Conference and Learning Center on-site for groups interested
in meeting in “a unique venue with every
imaginable amenity,” Bertuca said, either
on a non-game day or before a game.
While sitting on the sidelines for a professional football or baseball game will certainly be memorable for groups, there are also
plenty of opportunities throughout Chicago
for attendees to compete with one another.
The most popular event for groups at
the Windy City Fieldhouse, a multi-sport/
entertainment complex that specializes in
teambuilding, is a rotational competition
during which both athletic and brainy
attendees will shine.
“In a standard set-up, there are four activities followed by a culminating event to
crown the overall winner,” said the facility’s
president and co-founder, Murrel Karsh.
“The activities vary from active stations
like dodgeball and volleyball to less active
stations that require more communication
Among the wide variety of activities
available here, groups can also arrange a
single-sport tournament; an interactive
reception, during which attendees will
network and bond over informal games of
billiards, foosball and darts; or an off-site
option that allows groups to get out and
explore the city, including an Amazing
Race-style event or a Mission Impossible-
inspired scavenger hunt.
The Windy City Fieldhouse also has on-site spaces for meetings if the group would
WINDY CITY FIELDHOUSE
Latest + Greatest
➜ The 1,205-room Marriott Marquis Chicago ( www.marriottmarquischicago.com),
connected to McCormick Place, will open
later this year with more than 90,000
square feet of meeting space, including
two 25,000-square-foot ballrooms, a great
room-style lobby restaurant and bar, and a
marketplace food court.
➜ Also opening later this year is the Wintrust
Arena ( www.homecourtchicago.com), which
will be connected to McCormick Place, the
Marriott Marquis Chicago and the Hyatt
Regency McCormick Place. The 10,000-
seat arena will include 22 suites, and will
serve as a venue for general sessions for
McCormick Place conventions.
➜ Viceroy Chicago ( www.viceroyhotelsand
resorts.com) is scheduled to open this year
with 180 guest rooms and 3,600 square
feet of event space.
➜ The 452-room LondonHouse Chicago
( http://londonhousechicago.com) opened
in May 2016 with 25,000 square feet
of event space, including private dining
spaces, rooftop space, boardrooms and the
Juliette Grand Ballroom, which has floor-to-
ceiling windows and riverfront views.
➜ The Kimpton Gray Hotel ( www.grayhotel
chicago.com) opened last August with 293
guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of
➜ The 287-room Conrad Chicago ( www.conrad
chicagohotel.com) opened last November
with 10,000 square feet of event space.
➜ Last year, the 215-room Waldorf Astoria
com) added 7,914 square feet of event
space, including meeting and private
dining rooms, on the hotel’s third floor. The
new space joins the hotel’s existing 4,448
square feet of meeting space.
➜ The Yard ( www.chicagoshakes.com/yard), a
year-round performance venue and Chicago
Shakespeare’s home on Navy Pier, is on
track to open this fall.