CHICAGO – If your goal is to have some fun and learn about popular pastimes, The Chicago Sports Museum at Water Tower Place scores on both accounts.
Before you turn the page, wait. You can have a ball (or a puck) at the museum, even if you’re not a sports fan. Take it from me – someone who kids fought over on the baseball field in grade school, fought over to keep me off their the team, that is.
This celebration of all things sports will have you singing “Take me out the museum, take me out to the games …” in no time.
The museum is an interactive place that lets guests rise to the skill challenges and step into simulations that’ll have them feeling like a pro in their field – even the amateurs. Score goals, make some free throws and more. It also features artifacts, game-used items, and memorabilia.
Here are some of the sports highlights …
Measure Up: In this skill area see how you we stack up against the best in sports. Test your grip-strength compared to Chicago Bears' Kyle Long, find out how your wingspan rates to former Chicago Bulls player Scottie Pippen, try a vertical leap against former Bulls legend Michael Jordan, and throw a curve ball to beat Steve Stone's (baseball player, White Sox commentator). Also in this section are championship rings – including a Super Bowl ring people can try on – and displays of game-worn memorabilia.
Forensic Sports: In this section, you can try your hand as a sleuth in forensics with the help of technology. You might solve some of Chicago's famous sports mysteries. Study cross-sections of baseballs to see how they've changed over the past 100 years or look at a CT scan of a corked bat used by former Chicago Cubs player Sammy Sosa. You'll also see the work of various specialists and how it relates the Chicago sports scene.
Fan Zone: In the center, the museum celebrates Chicago sports fans. Head to the simulator and drive a racecar at the Chicago Speedway. Or how about keeping an eye out for the basketball hoop in which the last-minute, save-the-day shot swooshed through in 1998?
Superstitions: This should be interesting. Find out what curses or superstitions follow Chicago sports and delve into "cursed" teams throughout the world. What should a team think when it's had a 108-year World Series drought? We'll check out Cubs legends and lore, such as what's left of the foul ball from the 2003 playoff run. Also look for the Hoverboard and the Sports Almanac from the 1989 movie "Back to the Future II" – it predicted the Cubs would win the World Series. Now that's spooky.
Hall of Legends: Here the focus, fittingly enough, is on Chicago legends. A group of virtual reality games tests people's skills in basketball, baseball, football and hockey, not to mention Chicago sports trivia. Games include the All-Star Home Run Contest with Frank Thomas, Defending the Goat (hockey) against Patrick Kane, Quarterback Challenge with Richard Dent and Shooting Hoops with Scotty Pippen.
2016 World Series: This is said to be the largest collection of Chicago Cubs World Series memorabilia in Chicago. Look for Joe Maddon's "We Did Not Suck" T-shirt and Addison Russell's Game 6 grand slam ball.
If you’re hungry – and you’d like to save some money on the museum admission charge – pull up a bleacher seat at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch, where diners will receive complimentary admission with a minimum purchase – $10 for adults and $6 for seniors and children.
Harry Caray’s is on Level 7 of Water Tower Place, conveniently located for touring the museum. It serves up appetizers, salads, burgers, other sandwiches, fries, shakes and other beverages, including alcohol.
Take a deep breath and brave the Chicago city traffic to spend the day at the museum. You may even find that you’re better than the stars – or at least better than me.
If you go ...
What: Chicago Sports Museum
Where: Water Tower Place, Level 7, 835 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
When: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m .to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Note: The museum occasionally closes for private events. Check the website calendar to be safe.
Cost: $10 ages 12 to 64; $6 ages 65 and older and 4 to 11; and free for children younger than 3.
Distance: About 107 miles from Dixon
Accessibility: Admission is accessible to wheelchairs; highly-interactive exhibits may not be - check ahead
Information: chicagosportsmuseum.com or 312-202-0500