Local sports fans have no dearth of places to pay homage to their sport of choice – Wrigley Field,  Soldier Field, the United Center, Toyota Park, whatever the White Sox’s park is named now – but in River North, at Water Tower Place, there’s a special place to explore the legends and lore of Chicago sports. Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and the Chicago Sports Museum offers 23,000 square feet of space dedicated to innovative exhibits and memorabilia – and food and fun.

The Chicago Sports Museum features an exciting collection of exhibits and activities, designed to engage families and sports fans of all ages. These include Michael Jordan’s Last Shot Basket – the hoop, backboard, and stand from Jordan’s last game as a Chicago Bull, now on display – and the Chicago Fire Game, on a custom-built Xbox One with FIFA 16 World Cup where you can play as our local Major League Soccer team. This exhibit also features a game-worn uniform from current Fire captain Matt Polster. You can also check out the Curse Buster Arcade Game, a retro Pac-Man style arcade unit that lets players fight off curses plaguing Chicago’s sports teams, such as the infamous billy goat, the black cat, and the Cubs foul ball, to name a few.

Other exhibits at the museum include Measure Up, which lets fans compare their abilities with those of elite athletes; Forensic Sports, which incorporates “CSI”-style techniques to unravel sports mysteries; the Fan Zone, complete with a working replica of the Wrigley Field broadcast booth, and the Hall of Legends, highlighting famous Chicago athletes and their accomplishments.

The space also includes some outstanding memorabilia, and the Chicago Sports Museum is constantly adding to its collection. Among the latest acquisitions is Mike Ditka’s personal Super Bowl XX playbook, displayed next to a scanned iPad versions so visitors can look inside for the diagrams, plays, and motivational speeches the Bears coach wrote in 1985. Another is a windshield that Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber broke during spring training in 2016. Benny the Bull, the Bulls’ mascot and a suit from NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson are also recent additions to the displays.

Admission to the museum is complimentary if you dine at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch next door, a restaurant and sports bar with beautiful views of the city. Fortunately, this is a stylish and upscale restaurant with Harry Caray’s signature vibe – classic comfort food from Executive Chef Joe Rosetti. Soups and salads, inventive burgers, oven-fired pizzas, hand-dipped shakes and more make up the family-friendly menu. Naturally, there’s a 60-seat bar and giant flat-screen TVs arranged to never block anyone’s view. Locally-brewed tap beers and ales are on tap all the time, along with a curated list of sparkling wines, red wines, and white wines.

You can visit the retail store with high-end sports items, including licensed gear and autographed items. Also, private events and parties are welcome; the entire area is designed to provide flexible floor plans for seated or reception-style events. It can accommodate as few as 40 or up to 1,200 guests. A wide range of party menus and bar packages are available for everything from kids’ birthday parties to weddings.

The 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports Museum remain one of the city’s hottest gathering spots, no matter what sports season it is! Museum admission costs $6 for adults and $ for children, and your admission gets you a discount at the restaurant next door. Museum admission is free with a minimum purchase at the restaurant. For additional information, visit www.harrycarays.com or chicagosportsmuseum.com, or call 312-202-0500. The museum and restaurant are located on the seventh floor at Water Tower Place, at 835 Michigan Ave. along the Mag Mile.

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