Bears-Packers showdown boosts local business

January 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Bears fans are showing their pride all over town, wearing their team gear out in restaurants and bars as the get ready for the epic showdown with that team from up north. It's bringing some excitement to what could otherwise be a cold, dreary January.

"The city just seems a little more vibrant. Everyone is in a better mood. It's easier to spend money when you're in a better mood," said Mike Williamson.

Williamson is seeing a big boost in business at the West End bar where there has been a long line out the door for Bears games. It's the same story at many other places, like Harry Caray's restaurant. And it's adding up to nice profits for some businesses during months that might otherwise find them in the red.

"January and February are usually a ghost town in Chicago. When the Bears are winning, we have seen it in the past years, it has a huge impact," said Grant DePorter, Harry Caray's.

That impact extends to hotels which are getting a nice bonus with the Bears getting to host Sunday's game. Ed Andrews of the Hotel Intercontinental estimates the hotel has booked an additional 250 room nights just from fans going to Sunday's game.

"From the minute that we knew the playoff game was in the hometown, we started to get calls," said Andrews.

The big game has also prompted many fans from both teams to update their wardrobes with the latest jerseys and other gear.

"Business is doing really well. We got a lot of folks coming in," said Don Smith, manager, Sports Authority.

Businesses have been so good in advance of the Bears-Packers matchup, retailers are hoping it lasts. If the Bears win on Sunday, it will last for two more weeks when fans can stock up on Super Bowl merchandise.

And if the Bears win Sunday, the Sports Authority store in the River North Community hopes to sell championship t-shirts. Representatives say the store will stay open Sunday night until the last one is sold.

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