As the Blackhawks hope to patch together another year of being a contender and the Bulls begin their rebuild with a dismantled roster, their home stadium — The United Center — maintains last year’s status quo when it comes to food. Last year featured the further integration of restaurants like Big Star, Lillie’s Q, and more. UC officials said they’re content to slowly roll out changes throughout 2018 rather than make a huge splash.
Fans would think that the United Center could have stuck a new restaurant or two in the new atrium on the arena’s east side. The structure now houses the famous Michael Jordan statue that was previously outdoors. Instead, there’s a new entrance for one of the few changes at the stadium: The Magellan Courtside Club. This is a new area that was used to be office space. Workers transformed it into a place for tomahawk ribeyes, fancy bourbon, and more. It’s only available for court-side season ticket holders. Those tickets range from $1,600 to $2,700 per seat. The menu is the same selection premium ticket holders already expect in other areas of the stadium.
Notice that the TVs are tucked away. Management wants to force fans to actually watch the game live, rather than mill around in the bar and watch it on TV. The lure of the space is that it’s open before and an hour after events. Fans can nosh on sushi from Sunda while the parking lots clear out. There’s also potential to eventually open the space up to more ticket holders, executive chef Mike Arcomone said. Arcomone even mentioned serving food from Publican and other United Center restaurant partners in the future.
The United Center is also working on a neighboring space aimed at music fans. The stadium would work with touring musicians on special food packages, for example, they could to an intimate pre-concert meal for 12.
Elsewhere in the stadium, its still gone — after years of anguish, the home of the Blackhawks and Bulls has finally vanquished those soulless slices from DiGiorno, and Connie’s Pizza is back.
Read on for a section-by-section breakdown:
Connie’s Pizza (Sections 104, 222, 305, 322)
Connie’s is back, and they’re serving deep-dish pizza on all three levels. Every fan is stoked that the store brand is gone.
100 Level, Main Concourse
Woodgrain Neapolitan Pizza (Section 120)
The saddest place in the stadium, the DiGiorno plaza, is gone. It’s replaced by Woodgrain Neapolitan Pizza, promising hand-tossed thin crusts from wood ovens. No word if they’re VPN certified. The pizza menu consists of five cheese, garden vegetable, sausage and peppers and Italian beef & hot giardiniera.
Gibson’s (Section 103)
Chicago’s legendary Rush Street steakhouse already has a presence at Sox Park. Now they’re at the UC and serving up their Angus sliders. They’re also serving Manhattans.
Eat This: Fans will line up for tacos and kegged margaritas at Big Star, near Section 114. It’s worth it, and they’ve added a veggie taco. But surprisingly, the kale salad sold by Leghorn Chicken at Section 115 is a winner. It’s not soggy and the veggies are crisp.
200 Level, Club Section
Chicago Pours (Sections 234-210, 218-217)
The United Center seems to think there’s a market for cocktails at games. Partners include GreenRiver, Lost Lake, Sportsman’s Club and The Sixth. Now, Paul McGee won’t be around every game to mix a tiki drink, but it’s an impressive ensemble. The beverages will rotate for those fancy enough to have club level seats.
Eat This: Publican Quality Meats always delivers, and it’s a safe bet to make a stop for a sausage over at Chicago Sausage Shop near Section 223.
300 Level, The Upper Deck
Backstage Cantina (Section 326)
The 300 Level revamped one of its two main concessions stands, opting for Mexican food.
Lillie’s Q (Section 330)
This should make 300-level fans happy, as Charlie McKenna’s Wicker Park barbecue restaurant has made it to the upper deck. Their menu includes pork and trip tip sandwiches. There’s a new hot link sandwich and pulled pork nachos, too, plus sweet potato fries. Bags of Lillie’s Q branded potato chips are also available.
Legacy Burger (Section 313)
The United Center invented the brand in 2015 as an upscale burger spot, introducing it to the 100 Level. The burgers are fine, but if fans are looking for In-N-Out Burger, they should dampen expectations.
Eat This: The aforementioned deluxe nachos, which come in a helmet during Blackhawk games or a plastic basketball during Bulls games, are decadent and messy. If fans are patient and can find a stand that slings Italian beef, they will be happy, too. Otherwise, just go downstairs to the 100 Level.
Check out the arena’s full concession maps below: