Baseball fans in Chicago have a new team to root for, one that shows off the city’s culinary roots.
The Chicago Dogs started their first season in the American Association in May, an independent league team that brings in former and future major leaguers. (Butch Hobson, the team’s manager, was a former manager of the Boston Red Sox and played in the majors from 1975-82.)
Located in Rosemont—the home of the Chicago Bandits softball team and Chicago Wolves hockey team—the Dogs bring the fun of a big league game with the cost a little more affordable to families.
The team is happy to get kids involved and caters to its youngest fans, making a day at brand new Impact Field one for the whole family.
If you think the best part of a baseball game is the hot dog, the Chicago Dogs have you more than covered. Serving Vienna Beef dogs in sizes from Kids ($3.75) to Jumbo ($6), the concession stands also specialize in an official Chicago Dog with all the appropriate fixings ($7).
The Wiener Circle, the famous Clark Street hot dog stand, opened its second-only location on the concourse at Impact Field, serving fans and naming the team the Chicago Wieners for every Wednesday game (complete with special “Weiners” wear).
If you prefer something more than a hot dog, there are burgers, nachos, tacos and pretzels also on the menu. A separate stand called “Pies” serves pizza by the slice. The food continues around the concourse with specialized carts all around the stadium serving the likes of Italian beef sandwiches and Polish dogs. Insider tip: If you go with a big family or big group, try a little of everything and share your entrees, fries and chips.
There’s always gathering food and finding your seat before a game, but the Dogs have you covered for pregame activities, too. On Sundays, the players gather on the concourse for autograph signings. Fans can meet their favorite players, gathered at tables ready to ink their names. Insider tip: Programs and scorecards are free, so pick one up at the entrance to have players sign.
During the game
Like any good minor league baseball game, there are on-field promotions held during the breaks between innings. The Dogs don’t disappoint there, either, with fans battling out inside giant
inflatable balls, racing hobby horses while wearing a horse head and answering trivia questions. Insider tip: Sign up to take part in the promotions by finding the Dog Squad, who wear red shirts and look for fans during the game.
The Dogs have not one, but two mascots to entertain fans and take pictures. The benefit of two mascots is that they can show off on-field skits, play off of each other and host dance contests. Squeeze, a mustard-color, fuzzy mascot with a hat that resembles the top of a condiment bottle. His nemesis-Ketchup-wears prison stripes for the outlaw that he is, not allowed on a Chicago Dog hot dog. Both roam the stands and the concourse taking pictures and interacting with fans.
On the concourse
The concourse surrounds the entire field, so fans can see the stadium from every angle. In addition to the food options, there is a specialized kids’ area on the concourse to keep the youngest squirmy fans active. There’s a chance to throw a pitch to test arm speed (a digital readout gives a mile-per-hour count), hit for a home run or sprint to first base from home with a timer to test speed. Insider tip: The lines are shorter once the game starts, as long as you don’t mind missing a few innings.
If you or your young fan prefer to keep score during a game, visit the guest services counter near the entrance for a free scorecard. There you’ll also find a pledge of fandom to the team that you can fill out certify that you were there during the inaugural season.
Just for kids
On Sundays, the challenge moves from the kids zone to the field for The Top Dog Skills Competition. Kids ages 8-15 can show off—or try out—their baseball skills on the diamond at Impact Field in pitching, hitting or running. Each entrant can only choose one competition to enter: the Home Run Derby, the Golden Arm—Throwing Challenge or the Roadrunner—Base Running Challenge. Insider tip: Be sure to register in advance so that you’re not filling out forms at the stadium.
On Fridays, kids have the chance to run the bases after the game, hopping on the field where the players just finished a game.
The Chicago Dogs made sure that even their youngest fans could be decked out in home team gear with baby bibs that don the starred-dog logo. T-shirts and hats range from tiny to youth sizes and they have men’s and women’s sections in their pro shop for mom and dad. Insider tip: If your kid is growing, buy one size bigger so he or she can wear the shirt into next season.
The stadium can’t be missed from the Tri-State as traffic on the toll road runs behind left field and the scoreboard. Impact Field is located across the Tri-State from the Fashion Outlets and was built to open for fans before the start of this season in May. Tickets range from $9 in the bleachers to $25 behind home plate.
Die-hard baseball fans can buy a seat ($25) in the Field Suite and sit at field level under the scoreboard in left field (with a fence separating them from the action). From those seats, you can take a few hacks in the team batting cage during the game. Parking in the structure attached to the stadium is $3. Insider tip: Call the ticket office in advance if you plan to take a big group or if you want a trip with a scout troop or t-ball team.