Around The Campfire: Late October Edition

Where do you watch? In this edition of Around the Campfire we will discuss the growth of places to watch Chicago Fire away matches, and the need for more.

As fans begin to ramp up for a possible Chicago Fire playoff appearance, the excitement is bountiful and fans are enthusiastically watching the outcome of each match.  A topic I would like to tackle in this edition of Around the Campfire is where people choose to watch their favorite Major League Soccer club in Chicago and the Chicagoland area.  As always, with the Around the Campfire segments I would love to hear your opinion on where you like to watch and why.  Particularly for readers who watch from the suburbs or live out of state, who don’t have the slew of soccer bars that are available that those of us who live in Chicago take for granted.  I would love to hear how you connect to the fan base or just find a place to watch.

I was speaking with a friend last week and discussing Section 8 watch parties and how over the last several months attendance seems to have declined.  The obvious suspicion for the lighter participation was the Fire’s performance declining in the early part of 2013.  Contradicting this thought, knowing the loyalty of the fan base, the reasons we most suspected for the decline was the explosion of places to go and watch in Chicago as compared to previous season.  Since people have some many options they are opting to go to the bar closest to where they live that will play the match rather than meeting up for a watch party.

Personally the last two away matches I have watched were both in local Chicago soccer bars - one with just a couple friends and one with an entire watch party.  For the October 4th match against DC United I watched At Cleo’s.  It was an unusual Friday evening match, and I did not feel like traveling all the way north to AJ Hudson’s for the watch party, so I opted to stay a little bit closer and watch at one of the more committed soccer bars in Chicago.  Arriving early, I surprised the bartender when I asked for the match (he didn’t realize it was a Friday match), but he very graciously put the match on the TV in the whole back room.  By the time of kick off it was me, my two friends and about 12 other fans garbed in Fire gear watching in the back room.  It was a great time for an unorganized event.  I really admire how much Cleo's has bought in to the soccer bar model, now opening early on the weekends for EPL matches.  Their welcoming staff really sells me on this as a place to watch.

For the most recent game against FC Dallas, I decided to take the trip over to The Globe Pub and catch the with the Section 8 watch party.  The Fire faithful trickled in to the Globe and comfortably took most of the seats in the front room.  I am not a  giant fan of the Globe, preferring to watch at Cleo's or my favorite soccer bar The Atlantic, but there is something to say about being around a group of committed fans with like minds for a match.  The Globe was filled with  lots of passion, with fans yelling at the screen and everyone on the edge of their seats for the final few minutes, willing the Fire to hold on to their 2-3 lead.  Over the past three seasons that I have been a committed Fire fan, I have gone to a number of Section 8 sponsored watch parties.  I always enthusiastically encourage fans to attend these events.  It is a great way to connect with other committed fans and watch a match in a roomful of people who are truly passionate about the game.

I think it might be a good thing that people are finding more places to watch, even if the groupings of people in individual bars has declined.  The Fire fandom reaches more people and makes more of a footprint when fans are watching soccer throughout the city.  It can never hurt to have more bars showing the Fire.  I am fortunate that I live in Chicago.  I suspect the further out of Chicago you live the more difficult it becomes to find a  place to watch. In one my earliest articles for Hot Time in Old Town I tackled how to turn a bar into a  supporters bar, which you can check out here.  Perhaps we can continue to grow the Chicago Fire supporters community by expanding and conquering. Clearly we need more places to watch in the surrounding suburbs and further cities.

Where have you been watching? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and  contributions.   If you would like to provide insight on the places you have been watching or If there is some other event or topic you would like to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me either by posting to the blog below with your SB Nation account, tweet me at @Kalihan42 or e-mail me at kalihan42@yahoo.com.

As I finish this edition of Around the Campfire, I am off to check out the final Fire Friday of the season at the Atlantic Bar and Grill.  During my next segment of Around the Campfire, I'll let you know my thoughts on how it, and the new tradition in general, went.   Below is a list of upcoming events in the Chicago Soccer community and the usual Chicago soccer link bomb

Upcoming events for the next Couple of weeks - Below is a  list of upcoming events taken from a  number of sources online, many from the Fire website which can be linked to here http://www.chicago-fire.com/schedule/events.   As always, this is not a complete list and I welcome any additions and feedback I encourage everyone to send all of their contributions.

Fire Friday

Fri,

October18

6:00-8:00

The Atlantic Bar and Grill

5062 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

Section 8 Tailgate

Sat, October 19

5:00pm – 7:15pm

North Parking Lot, Toyota Park, 7000 S Harlem Ave, Bridgeview, IL 60455 (map)

Chicago Fire Vs. Toronto FC

Sat, October 19

7:30 pm

Toyota Park

Sparky / Street Team @ Frank Lloyd Wright Races

Sunday, October 20

8:00AM – 11:00AM

Oak Park River Forest High School – 201 North Scoville Avenue, Oak Park, IL

Downers Grove SoccToberfest

Sunday, October 20

9:00AM – 5:00PM

McCollum Park – 6821 Main Street, Downers Grove, IL 60516

Fire Reserves Vs. Toronto Reserves

Sunday, October 20

10am – 12pm

Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL

Chicago Fire Season Ticket Holder Select-a-Seat

Sat, Oct 26,

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Toyota Park

Chicago Red Stars-Fall Clinics

Saturday, October 26th

9:00AM-11:00AM

Libertyville (Libertyville Sports Complex, 950 N. Highway 45)

Section 8 Watch Party

NY Red Bulls vs Chicago Fire

Sun, October 27

3pm – 6pm

Reggie's, 2105 S State St, Chicago, IL

Chicago Red Stars-Fall Remote Events (In conjunction with Lady Viking Soccer)

Saturday, November 2

10:00AM-2:00PM

Valparaiso, Indiana

Section 8 Board Meeting

Wed, November 6,

7:00 pm

The Atlantic Bar and Grill

5062 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

Chicago soccer community linkbomb!

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