NCAA Teams with the Most Bars in Chicago

There are over 600,000 alumnus in Chicago and as the fifth fastest growing U.S. city, that probably includes a lot of graduates from out-of-state. Graduates from local, in-state schools can walk into any bar on a Saturday morning/afternoon and catch their school’s football game with much problem. It’s much different for out-of-state alumni.

Obviously the university’s enrollment size plays a big factor in whether your school’s supported by a bar in Chicago. There are only so many bar-owners in Chicago, it’s more likely one graduated from _the_ University of Ohio State than a smaller school like the University of California, Merced. Graduates from smaller, more unknown schools probably already know this, but finding fellow alumnus is more difficult. In most cases you’ll have to buy some kind of special tv package for your school’s conference to watch your games.

On the other hand the University of California, Los Angeles has one of the highest enrollments from any university in the US. Despite being in California like UC-Merced, there’s multiple UCLA bars in Chicago, mainly because their alumnus are so wide-spread.

What schools have the most representation in bars and restaurants across Chicago? What alumnus has the easiest time finding a guaranteed spot to watch their game? We’ve looked at our database of NCAA bars in Chicago to find out, and put together our top 3 list:

Third place (tie):
Ohio State University, University of Michigan & University of Iowa — 7 Chicago bars

The Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines and Iowa Hawkeyes are each represented in 7 bars and restaurants in Chicago.

As much as I don’t want to spoil (alert) the results, it shouldn’t be a shocking that Big 10 schools make up this entire list (although for completeness-sake, at the end I included the most bars for a non-Big 10 school). Not only are Big 10 schools close to Chicago, but most have higher-than-average enrollment rates. That combination has many alumnus deciding to make Chicago their post-graduation home.

Second place:
University of Wisconsin-Madison — 8 Chicago bars

The Badger State shows out in Chicago with 8 bars and restaurants supporting the Wisconsin Badgers according to our research, making them the second-most represented bar in Chicago. A lot of these bars are supporters of the Green Bay Packers as well. Typically, over 25% of incoming, out-of-state first-time admitted students at Wisconsin-Madison are from Illinois.

It’s not clear what bar is the “official” bar to watch games, or if there even is one, but there’s some more information on the Chicago page of the Badger Hangouts website.

First place:
Michigan State University — 19 Chicago bars

The Michigan State Spartans are the most represented university in bars and restaurants across Chicago and it’s not even close. We counted a total of 19 bars and restaurants that support the Lansing university, more than doubling the second place total. The Spartan presence is so heavy in Chicago that they are one of just a few schools with their own personal, dedicated website for Chicago alumni. What makes Chicago so attractive to Spartan alumni? They have quarterly networking nights specific to MSU alum, which probably helps spread the word to the more-recent transplants from Lansing.

Non-Big 10 Team:
Kansas University — 4 Chicago bars

By our count the Kansas Jayhawks have the most support from Chicago bars and restaurants, 4 in total.

As schools like Northwestern and DePaul begin to market themselves as “Chicago” universities, it will be interesting to see if more bars and restaurants start lending their support to more local teams.

Note that Tuman’s is said to be welcoming of all Big 10 schools, although it would be an interesting setting for rivalry games like Ohio State and Michigan or Illinois and Indiana. Since Tuman’s represents all Big 10 schools, we did not count them toward the total number of Chicago bars for each school.