Any 49er fan who hasn’t experienced traveling to an away game with Faithful Empire family yet should definitely consider putting this on their bucket list.
Whether it’s during winning seasons or when our team is in the dumps, an away game experience will be something any Faithful will cherish forever. As our Empire family grows becoming the most organized fan base in the world we continue building on every fan experience possible.
For this past weekend our team at “The Niner Empire Organization(TNE) planned the Chicago 49er Invasion Meet & Greet for 49er fans who live in and around Chicago as well as the traveling fans coming into town.
Working closely with the 49ers Organization the event was promoted heavily to the Faithful to do our best that no fan traveling to Chicago would miss this opportunity to hang out with other 49er fans.
A big group of fans chose Friday as our travel day and had folks flying/driving in from all over. Those who arrived early enough began meeting at “Vertigo Sky Lounge” an upscale venue in downtown Chicago. As the rest arrived in their 49er gear we moved down the street to “The Kerryman” which had a huge Bears flag hanging outside almost begging a big group of Niners to enter. The bar was packed and incredibly it seemed the only person that gave us any grief was a Cowboy fan running his mouth. So we just laughed and didn’t pay him any mind and continued having a good time til the venue closed around 3-4am.
Saturday was the Meet n Greet at Cheesies Pub & Grub where the 49ers Organization arrived early to hand out Faithful scarves and rally towels to the fans as they entered the only 49er bar in Chicago owned by Chris Johnston a Diehard 49ers fan. The turnout was amazing as over 300 49ers fans packed the place. Empire Row, “Kings of the Tailgate” who had also traveled in from SF where in the building followed by 49ers player Tank Carradine who snuck in to hang out with the Empire Faithful.
After a very successful event we walked over to Giordano’s with Tank Carradine for dinner to make sure we did not leave Chicago without having tasted their famous Chicago pizza. How was it you ask? It was incredible! We’re all still having Chicago Pizza withdrawals and swear we will never see pizza the same again.
After dinner we had to walk it off so as we’re strolling through the city, Empire Row’s Abel Rueda had a sudden urge to tailgate the next day. Even though this was totally unplanned we were now walking through Chicago to find a Walmart to buy a grill and meats for game day. A large group of 49ers fans walking through downtown Chicago then spilling into Walmart was definitely a sight to see. After shopping everyone randomly walked into “Renaldi’s Pizza Pub” and it became another great night playing pool and having drinks with Niner Faithful until the bar closed.
Back at the hotel around 3-4am Empire Row was prepping the food for the tailgate in their hotel rooms.
Somehow they were up bright and early and were tailgating by 10am at Soldier Field.
(On a side note as a result of unplanned tailgating there was a lot of extra food cooked that never got eaten. Abel would later take all the extra food to an alley near our hotel and surprise of the homeless living there buying them sodas and feeding them full meals. They were very grateful to him for his kindness)
On game day, Soldier Field was within walking distance from a lot of our hotels and we joined the masses heading to the game. A lot of us got lost and never found the tailgate since it was all last minute. While searching for it however we really got to know Soldier Fields surroundings. Insults and jeers from Bears fans were everywhere but Niner fans took it all in stride. There were some really nice Chicagoan’s however who stopped us and welcomed us to their city. No matter how we felt about each others team the one thing we all agreed to was yelling, “Green Bay Sucks” at the top of our lungs as we walked into the stadium.
Historic Soldier Field came alive as it filled up with football fans from all over including the Cowboys, Bronco’s, Vikings and Raiders fans that stuck out like sore thumbs.
The game obviously goes down as an incredibly fun game to be at as Torrey Smith’s winning touchdown in overtime sealed us our victory. It was strange to see how older Bears fans seemed to be holding an old grudge from the mid eighties as you heard them grumbling while pushing or elbowing 49ers fans through out the day. After the Bears loss the trash talking turned into every type of slur about San Francisco you could imagine. We ignored it all since everyone was elated with the win.
There was one unfortunate incident that did happen during the game when a 49ers fan who actually lives in Chicago went into a restroom alone and as he described it, it got really quiet before four bears fans jumped him. He made a police report and was checked out by EMT and we’re glad he was okay. What stinks is he missed the rest of the game because he was taking care of the paperwork with the Chicago Police.
Over all though because of the huge amount of fans traveling together in groups everyone felt pretty safe which is what we highly recommend when going to any away games to please travel in groups. The last thing you need is to bump into the one group of knuckleheads while you’re alone.
After leaving the game, 49ers fans set out on the town again to celebrate the win. A group of us walked through a different part of downtown into “The Berkshire Lounge” for drinks before setting out again ending up at a club where other 49ers fans had ended up as well and started buying us bottle service until 4am. What a great time we all had partying with even more Faithful whom we had never met.
On Monday morning after some final sight seeing everyone said there goodbyes wishing each other safe travels before heading home. In a word we will say this trip was “EPIC!”
We wish this for every Faithful to experience at least once. Thank you to all that were able to make it out and for those who couldn’t we recommend you give it a shot… Stay tuned as we announce future “Invasions” and hope you can join us for other “EPIC” Away Game Getaways!!!
ONE TEAM – ONE LOVE – ONE FAMILY