I went to the Bears game last night. A friend gave me a ticket a friend had given him. Obviously, a preseason game against Cleveland is not exactly a hot-ticket event.
It was the first time I’d seen a game at the “new” Soldier Field, which just goes to show how little I get out. It opened in 2003.
But I figured it was a good chance to see how my tax dollars were spent. Remember, the stadium was renovated with about $360 million in tax dollars. True, it came out of the hotel-motel tax. But as the boys in the budget office never tire of telling me, tax revenue all goes into one big pot. So money spent on Soldier Field is money that might have been spent on something else, like buying books and computers for our cash-starved schools.
The game itself was pretty lousy. The Bears lost and looked bad doing so. The halftime show consisted of a cheesy act featuring Frisbee-catching dogs.
By the third quarter my main reason for staying was to check out the bathrooms. If you recall, one of the city’s most compelling reason for spending all that public money rebuilding the joint — the so-called public benefit, as they say — was that they needed more bathrooms for the fans. Especially the women.
Well, sorry to report, the news on the bathroom front was bleak. Lines stretched outside most of the women’s restrooms all night. And the men’s room I visited was gross. Sure, they got rid of the old troughs. But a lot of Bears fans apparently don’t believe in flushing toilets and have lousy aim.
On the other hand, folks went bonkers over the Dunkin’ Donuts race — pitting a cup of coffee against a bagel and a doughnut — they broadcast on the jumbo screens. I guess as long as Bears fans are happy, I’m happy for them. Like all the Chicagoans who keep on electing Mayor Daley, they expect so little, they’re grateful for whatever they get.