Chicago: United Center

The tour continues tonight with the first of two performances at the absolutely gigantic United Center.

It really is enormous. This behemoth of a building is the largest indoor sports and entertainment arena in the whole of the United States, in fact, covering some 960,000 square feet.

The UC, as it is affectionately known, is home to the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League and the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association. Bronze statues of the city’s sporting heroes can be found both in and outside the arena: the Blackhawks’ Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, and most famously of all, measuring 12 feet and weighing 2,000 pounds, the Bulls’ Michael Jordan immortalised in classic pose.

Best team mascot ever, as well. Benny the Bull. Legend.

From the street and on first impressions, the stadium might look older than it really is, as its exterior is reminiscent of the Art Deco architecture of the 1920s and the stadium it was built to replace. Don’t be fooled: inside it is vast, airy and modern.

Since its opening in 1994, the UC has welcomed over forty million guests through its many doors. This is perhaps not so surprising when you consider that the venue hosts over 200 events annually and is regularly filled to the rafters. Luxurious and spacious, this is another very fan-friendly place to visit and its plush, theatre-style cushioned seating provides an unobstructed view of the action wherever it happens to be and wherever you happen to be sitting.

The UC has hosted UFC Fight Nights, a WWF/WWE SummerSlam and the Stanley Cup Finals three times in the present decade, but aside from the various sporting events, there have also been circuses, naturalisation ceremonies, Disney On Ice and the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

Again, as you’d expect, there have been rock concerts by all the biggest names in music. The first three concerts ever held here, held over a four-day span in October 1994, were by Billy Joel, Eric Clapton and Frank Sinatra. Of course, Ol’ Blue Eyes finished off with ‘My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)’ – how could he not?

For curious foodies, here’s an obligatory link for you; I’m sure we’ll discuss in the chatroom at some point.

For a flavour – no pun intended – of the sights and sounds of this wonderfully all-American modern sporting temple, here’s a time-lapse video showing the routine conversion from ice hockey rink to basketball court. A moment, if you please, to appreciate everybody who regularly toils through the night to make this remarkable transformation possible. (Listen out for that pipe organ. What a classic sound.)

If you’re in the Windy City for tonight’s gig, have a lovely time. We can’t wait to hear all about it.

There are still some tickets available for tonight as well as Friday night, don’t forget. Tell your friends.