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Tailgating Rules: Laws, Tips For Soldier Field Pregaming

You may be ready for some football, but are you ready for the tailgate party, legally speaking?

The Bears will take on the Detroit Lions here at Soldier Field on national television Oct. 22. Monday Night Football. Does it get better than that? If you're the tailgating type, you have only a few weeks to prepare for that glorious matchup. With the way Cutler and Marshall seem to be meshing, and the way Matt Stafford has been collapsing for the Lions, that game looks to be a fun one for Bears fans.

Before setting up those tents, tapping those kegs, and grilling those brats, take heed of the following tailgating tips and laws. Doing so can prevent your tailgating experience from being more of a bust than Cade McNown.

The key to successful tailgating, according to, is to arrive extremely early. Season ticket holders and those who win an offseason lottery can buy parking passes for lots where tailgating is allowed. Others have to arrive as early as 7 a.m. for a morning game. Then again, since you'll be sippin' beer and grillin' bratwurst, arriving early shouldn't be too big of a problem, right?

Another thing to consider are the stadium's restrictions on beer and barbeques. No open fire pits, deep fryers, or canopies are allowed in the parking lots, though they're allowed on the grass. When it comes to beer, according to, open container rules are not enforced in the parking lots, but they are enforced in other areas around the stadium.

Chicago Municipal Code 8-4-030 prohibits "drinking in the public ways." This means no open containers of alcohol anywhere in public, including near the stadium. Of course, even closed containers can't be brought into the stadium, unless you tuck them away in your "secret" areas. Cold beer down there? Not a great idea in the middle of a Chicago winter. The punishment for public drinking is a fine of between $100 to $500, or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

Another thing to keep in mind is that drinking beer is typically followed by the need to relieve yourself. Don't urinate or defecate in public, which drunken people tend to do. It also carries a $100 to $500 fine, though the possible jail time is only five to 10 days.

Six months for a beer, but taking a dump on the sidewalk is only 10 days? Yep. Then again, those are the maximum penalties. For a first-time offense, a ticket is probably the most you'd receive. Still, a $100 ticket means a lot less beer and burgers.

If you do decide to tailgate, please do so responsibly. Cops know that drunken football fans will be leaving the game. They will be watching. Just ask the Ditkas. Plus, the last thing you want to do is hit a Lions fan with your car. It might scratch your paint.

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