The South Bend Silver Hawks, a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, swoop down on their foes with a flurry of fastballs and swinging bats. Instead of digging a tunnel directly to the pitcher’s mound, fans can catch one of seven home games from sturdy box seats that offer stately views of the infield. This year, first baseman Yazy Arbelo has led the slugging stats with 27 homers and 86 RBIs over 120 games. In 83 innings, southpaw David A. Holmberg has logged 81 strikeouts and cultivated a microscopic 2.39 ERA in a petri dish. Fans can also enjoy nonathletic festivities at the ballpark, including fireworks and a concert on August 26, Canines at the Cove on August 27, and an autograph session with the team’s stunt doubles. Meanwhile, a new downtown entrance greets visitors at Coveleski Stadium, where they can look for their likenesses on a recently installed jumbotron. As one of the only Minor League fields that features cleat-gripping turf, the Cove enables lightning-fast sprints and prevents the Hawks from floating away.
The Indiana Ice glide toward their eighth consecutive USHL playoff appearance and contend for their second Clark Cup during two bone-rattling bouts against Eastern Conference foes. Through 42 games, the young pack of puck punishers has racked up 26 wins behind star forward Daniil Tarasov, whose robust 56 points has opposing defenses folding like a tent cursed with a below-average poker face. San Jose Sharks 2011 draft pick Sean Kuraly skates among the league's top scorers with 26 goals, and goalie Jon Gillies protects the team's leads by unfurling the USHL's best save percentage in front of the net. During breaks in the glacial action, the Hardee's Chill Girls scorch the ice with scintillating steps as mascot Big-E-Foot roams the arena dishing out high-fives and digging out stray cats from his fur.
Simply put, Players Sport & Social Group helps more than 60,000 people each year get together, meet new friends, and have fun. The two-decade-old company has more than doubled in size in the last five years, due in no small part to the wide variety of sports leagues and clinics that it offers at venues throughout the city. Teams or individuals can sign up for sports ranging from dodge ball to beach volleyball to games of "bags," otherwise known as cornhole. Players can check their weekly standings online and review each sport's rules, learning exactly what is considered a foul in kickball or how to dispose of a football opponent's captured flag by burning it in a respectful ceremony.
The company also hosts and sponsors social events such as happy hours, fundraisers, and the Luau: a 55,900-participant grass-volleyball tournament with DJ music, food, and beer. Similarly, The Big Dig volleyball tournament offers the same mix of munchies, brews, and live entertainment, but on the sands of North Avenue Beach.
The 'K' of the Chicago Sky's logo towers above the other letters, two thin prongs poking out from the top—a nod to the most famous of the city's iconic buildings. Fittingly inspired by the Chicago skyline, the Sky's uniforms have represented the Windy City since 2006. In those years, some of the WNBA's top players have donned the blue and yellow threads, including Candice Dupree, Epiphanny Price, and Sylvia Fowles—a defensive star who also wore red, white, and blue in London in 2012. In 2010, the Sky transitioned from the UIC Pavilion to a new, permanent home court, packing its neatly folded coaches into suitcases and moving to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
Built from the ground up in 2007, the Sheffield Baseball Club, Ivy League Baseball Club, and Wrigley Field Rooftop Club feature full-service bars stocked with premium draft beers and spreads of meaty entrees and sweet desserts. Extra-wide cushioned seats, outdoor plasma televisions, and canopied table areas recall the luxury of watching a game at home, and elevators shuttle guests to and from each of the handicap-accessible clubs' multiple levels. Between pitches, attendees can catch glimpses of Chicago's skyline looming in the distance, where the Willis Tower and Wrigley Building can be seen painting "Go Cubs!" across their exposed bellies.
The ECHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, the Elmira Jackals skated onto the scene in 2000 as a member of the United Hockey League. After a successful seven-year run in the UHL—including a playoff appearance in their very first season—the Jackals moved to the ECHL in 2007–2008, where they've remained since. Although the Jackals are still in hot pursuit of their first Kelly Cup, the team has earned a playoff berth in every season, highlighted by an Eastern Conference regular-season title in 2011–12. Off the ice, the Jackals remain active in the community with efforts led by mascot Blade, who's often spotted mingling with fans at parties, retail stores, and while getting his eyebrows waxed at local spas.