Monica Murphy

No better place to hang with a friend.

No better place to hang with a friend.

Let me begin by stating the obvious: it’s been a rough season for Bears fans. Actually, recipe let me rephrase that…it’s been a rough few seasons for Bears fans. Between the playoff drought, for sale the rotating coaches and coordinators, clinic and suffering through four years of an alleged ‘franchise quarterback’ that has yet to bloom, Bears fans have hit a rough patch.

Like all other Bears fans this season, I’m in a state of disbelief and disgust, as the Bears currently sit at 4-6, tied for last place in the NFC North, with an unforgiving schedule remaining. I’m convinced that this season is pretty much shot and that coaching changes are likely imminent this off-season. The recent chatter around the creative ways the Bears could unload Jay Cutler this offseason, have me giddy. But despite the Bears inability to connect offensively or to stop any sort of running game, I still faithfully follow along, consuming Bears information each day.

Regardless of how poor the Bears may be playing or how dim their post season hopes make look, one thing remains consistent, year after year: the Solder Field experience.

A $8.00 domestic beer in a plastic cup never tasted so good.

A $8.00 domestic beer in a plastic cup never tasted so good.

I’ve been blessed to have attended dozens of Bears games throughout the last 15 years, thanks in part to my previous jobs at ESPN and Comcast. Previous games usually included entertaining clients, which limited just how rowdy I could get, but always guaranteed a free ticket to the game – something I undervalued until now.

I’ve moved on from my days of selling sports media to another equally amazing job – but now I have to pay like everybody else, which certainly has put a limit to the number of Bears games I hit each season.

I used to scour the internet for the best ticket deals I could get my hands on. But recently I came across Vivid Seats, a full-service ticket marketplace that is located right here in Chicago.

50-yard line:  worth every penny.

50-yard line: worth every penny.

I’ve price compared Bears tickets across multiple sites, and Vivid Seats continuously has the best deals. Not only do they guarantee the lowest prices, but you can build a Bears Ultimate Fan Package around the game. This comes in handy when you have friends or family coming to town who are looking for the VIP experience and you are willing to splurge. Options include a hotel room at the Wit, VIP tailgate experience prior to the game, beverage and food package at the United Club and even VIP transportation to and from Soldier Field – worth every penny come sub-par temps and being able to avoid the post-game rush.

As an official Bears partner, Vivid Seats guarantees every part of their VIP Bears packages – from the legitimacy of the tickets, to the on-the-field access (yep, that’s an option too!). And Bears tickets is just one of thousands of options available at Vivid Seats. They carry tickets for every major league team as well as all of the hottest concerts and local events (I snagged some great seats at AllState two weeks ago for the Ringling Brothers Circus for 20% cheaper than StubHub was selling them).

The best view in the house. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

The best view in the house. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

So when I realized that my time was running out to get to a Bears game this season, before kick-off temps were consistently in the teens and the Bears had absolutely nothing left to play for, of course I turned to Vivid Seats for a pair of tickets to last Sunday’s meeting with the Vikings.

My side-kick on Sunday was my good friend Liz, who hadn’t been to a Bears game since she was a kid (yes, I was shocked as well), so we took the extra time to cruise the perimeter of stadium, observing the massive columns of the original Soldier Field, while admiring some of the more interesting looks and sounds on game day.

Our favorite couple of the day. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Our favorite couple of the day. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Despite the Bears current situation, the energy of the fans at Soldier Field prior to kick-off was upbeat and positive. It certainly helped that the Bears were able to come back from being down 0-3 in the first with the most consistent performance by Cutler and the offense since that far-away 49ers win early in the season. It’s incredible how different the energy inside Soldier Field is when the Bears are winning and putting on a performance that fans can feel good about.

The Forte fans were in full force. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

The Forte fans were in full force. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

A few beers and a brawt into the game, our body temps evened out as we watched Cutler connect with Jeffery and Marshall for 3 TDs (despite 2 INTs) as light snow fell, stadium clocks failed, and local veterans were honored on the field at halftime. We enjoyed a competitive game surrounded by grateful fans who above all things, like us, just seemed happy to be there, on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying the game they love and the team they just can’t give up on, no matter how rough the season gets.

Old School.  Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Old School. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

As for me, I probably won’t be going to any more games at Soldier Field this season. Now that I have to shell out the cash for tickets, I’ll hold off for Hawks or Bulls games in January and February, but I’m so glad that I got my Soldier Field experience in this year. I feel complete, as if my trip to Soldier Field for the Vikings game in some way helped serve my duty as a Bears fan and as a Chicagoan. I’ll now anguish through the rest of the Bears season as a spectator on my warm couch, in the comfort of my own home – that is, until someone calls with United Club seats.

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for sale Greg Cochrane” alt=”Chicago Fire Defender, look Greg Cochrane” src=”http://sportsdivasinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/233A3840-1024×683.jpeg” width=”467″ height=”311″ /> Chicago Fire Defender, Greg Cochrane strikes a pose on the runway. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

The Chicago Fire hosted their 2nd annual Soccer & Style Fashion Show last week at Revel downtown, proving once again that these footballers are just as well-footed off the field as they are on.

With proceeds benefitting the Chicago Fire Foundation, the second year event drew Fire fans, family, friends, socialites and fashion admirers alike, providing an evening of sophistication, fashion and sport like no other event in Chicago.

Elizabeth Stanton and I had the opportunity to attend this year and arrived about 20 minutes before the players took the stage. Upon arriving, we immediately grabbed two glasses of wine from the open bar and cruised the perimeter of the venue, visiting several vendor booths that included designer eyewear and hats.

Chicago Fire Fashion Show

Midfielder Benji Joya. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

One of my favorite local news personalities, Natalie Bomke took the stage as the emcee and welcomed the crowd that included a solid mix of men and women and a few bonafide fashionistas. Attendees sat in chairs lined up against the catwalk that was appropriately placed in the middle of the event space.

One by one players and coaches emerged from a back room behind the stage and each took their turn walking the runway in looks by Mens Warehouse, featuring Joseph Aboud, fashion-forward street and athletic wear by Bumpy Pitch and Chi Boys, eyewear trends by Eye Candy Optics, and hats from BlaQ ZinQ, the luxury headwear brand created by Fire forward Robert Earnshaw.

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Forward Robert Earnshaw. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

While some of the ballers were better cat-walkers than others, each player and coach had their own sense of style as they took their turn posing for fans and snapping cameras as the DJ pumped out great beats and kept the crowd engaged.

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Forward Quincy Amarikwa. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

My only issue with the program this year was that the players were not announced prior to taking the stage and there was no mention to what they were specifically wearing. The event could have been more engaging if each player had been introduced, including his position – and perhaps an interesting anecdote or two (…resides in the UK in the off-season…enjoys cooking in his spare time, etc.) as well as what exactly he was wearing. This was a missed opportunity to market the players, and the clothing, to a diverse group that may not be attending games on a regular basis.

Overall, it was another successful event for the Fire, providing fans an opportunity to see players in a different light and enjoy a night of sport and fashion in an intimate setting. While the Fire may not have had the season they had hoped for, they still know how to bring their A-game for lifestyle-focused events that fans have come to love and expect from the sophisticated and international team.

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

More and more teams today are realizing that in order to gain more fans they need to do a better job courting the folks who appreciate the aesthetic attributes of the sport.

In Chicago’s competitive pro sports scene, sildenafil the clear front runner in this space is the Chicago Fire.

Chicago’s soccer club continuously puts out culturally-significant events that leave us impressed with a renewed interest in the game, salve the club and the players, which always leads me to ask, “why aren’t more teams doing this type of thing?”

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

The easy answer is “because they don’t have to”. Unlike the majority of their pro counterparts in our city, the Fire doesn’t sell out every single game and the size of the club’s fan base pales in comparison to that of the ‘other’ football team in town. We’re all aware of the never-ending ‘futbol debate’ that rages on between American football fans and the lovers of soccer, and whether you love footy more than football, with Toyota Parks’ southwest city location, catching an impromptu match isn’t as easy as jumping a cab over to Soldier Field.

But if you prefer extracurricular sporting events that involve good lighting, art, civil conversations, DJs and cocktails, then the Chicago Fire has an event for you! After all, this is the team that brings us sexy events like the Fashion Show at the Wit (check out my review from 2013 here) and the incredibly popular White Party. The Fire has a flare for throwing high-brow events that celebrate and promote the game effortlessly.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Fire’s fourth annual Art of Futbol at Prairie Production studio on Randolph with friends Elizabeth Stanton and Monica Gostkiewicz. This annual event rotates between slick venues around the city and brings together a curated collection of donated art that in some shape or form celebrates the game of futbol. A handful of the artists donate a portion of their proceeds to the Chicago Fire Foundation.

Art of Futbol

Over 50 artists submitted art with 25 on display including several of the Chicago Fire players as well as one of our favorite Bears, Martellus Bennett. The art exhibit ranged from mixed display to oil on canvas to photography with all pieces sharing the common feature of futbol.

Art of Futbol

DJ Anton Trizna spun while a diverse mix of guests mingled, sipped complimentary wine from E & J Gallo, beers from Heineken and water from Fiji while nibbling on impressive light fare from Shakout sushi, Carnivale, and Cabot cheeses. The scene was lively and inviting with hands-on exhibits that allowed guests to paint and leave behind a personalized mark on a community piece of art. A handful of players (very difficult to identify in street clothes) mingled with guests and roamed freely among the crowd that skewed heavily male (70/30).

Monica Gostkiewicz, Monica Murphy, Elizabeth Stanton

Monica Gostkiewicz, Monica Murphy, Elizabeth Stanton

The Fire are known for throwing great events and the warmer weather brings not only ideal conditions for matches at Toyota Park but the slew of upcoming must-hit events that warrant your attention. Check out these upcoming Fire fundraisers and be sure to make your way to Toyota Park this summer for some of the best futbol in Chicago.

Chicago Fire Soccer Club – Fire Brews + Bites

Saturday, June 14: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Hosted at Carmichael’s Steakhouse, this event allows World Cup fans to sample a variety of brews from local breweries, snack on various appetizers, and socialize with other attendees while viewing World Cup games on the big screen.

Purchased tickets here: Fire, Brews, and Bites

Save the date for the 2014 Chicago Fire’s 3rd Annual White Party: Date & time are TBD – always held in August, and always one to sell out – this is one of the hottest international events of the summer and a must-hit for any gal – futbol fan or not. Check out the pics and info from the Chicago Fire Foundation’s 3rd Annual White Party for a taste.

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Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

While many of us spend the majority of the regular season cheering on our favorite teams, there it’s usually around playoff time that the media really begins to take notice that our numbers are growing and that we are, in fact, a committed, aware and savvy group of fans that just happen to be female.

Our friends over at FOX 32 News Chicago recently produced a story regarding the growing numbers of female Blackhawks fans in Chicago. Our Blackhawks lead writer, Victoria Kendzierski had the opportunity to weigh in (check out above video).

We’ve heard some recent stats that roughly 40% of the Blackhawks fan base is made up of women. Is anyone surprised? With two Stanley Cups in the last four years and a loaded international roster of young, incredible talent (that just happen to be easy on the eyes) and you’ve got the perfect marketing mix. Throw in the 24-hour media coverage that includes every outlet scrambling to out-perform the other and the addition of BlackhawksTV, the Hawks in-house media company and production facility, and we’ve never had better access to the guys and the game.

It doesn’t hurt that the the team, the players (and their WAGs) are pretty active on social media. Thanks to Twitter and Instagram, we get to see what players and their WAGs do on the weekends, where they vacation, where they dine, their pets, their families, their homes. What used to be ‘off-limits’ is now publicly shared by members of the teams and adorned by fans.

Add to the mix the already booming Chicago sports charity scene that the Blackhawks are slowly beginning to join. Bryan and Amanda Bickell are probably the most active with their work in the community that promotes Pit Bull awareness through the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation. They host events monthly and just a few weeks ago a very pregnant Amanda hosted Pints for Pits at Durkin’s  (read our full review here). This fall, Duncan Keith hosted the Duncan Keith Relief concert and Brent Seabrook has been active the last few years with the ICE Bowl.

SDI'S Monica Gostkiewicz and Amanda Bickell

SDI’S Monica Gostkiewicz and Amanda Bickell at a “Fetching Affair”

Yep, we’ve been to all of these fun events and so have loads of other women. After all, who digs parties, red carpets, giving back to the community, the opportunity to get decked out and hit a hot spot with celebrity athletes? Hmmm…women?!

So while the media begins to take better notice of our growing numbers and Blackhawks fever peaks again, we can only hope that marketers also start paying better attention. How many more dumb blonde beer commercials must we endure before certain brands realize that we are an educated, sophisticated, feminine and aware bunch and are just as avid and aware as our male counterparts? Why teams, leagues and brands haven’t taken a more serious approach to marketing towards women still puzzles me.

After all, carefully converting a woman into an educated and aware fan only benefits the teams, leagues and their vendors. Women lead all purchasing decisions in the household. If a woman is a fan in her single years, the likelihood of her being a passionate fan when she’s a wife and mother is sure thing. It’s her that supports splurging on jerseys for the kids for Christmas and she’s the one that ultimately approves the thousands of dollars that go towards the season tickets each year. Yet, we still see only a fraction of sports marketing even remotely targeted to this incredibly under-served and lucrative demographic.


Women shell out the same amount of cash to go to games, purchase Hawks merchandise and drink the $12 beers at the UC. While some marketers (and media) have improved their delivery acknowledging our growing and aware fan base, many still fall short assuming we that we only attend games because we are dragged along, prefer pink jerseys, cannot pronounce “Toews” and prefer to watch fake-breasted women with pin-up credentials give us the ‘insider’ access to the players that we crave and desire (yes, we’re talking to you Comcast SportsNet).

So, the more women that tune-in, pay attention, know their stuff and can appreciate the benefits of being an educated and aware fan in our sports-blessed city, the more likliehood we’ll see better merchandise, more deserving and qualified women on the sidelines, better marketing from the networks, teams, and media, and an all-around greater respect for the female fan. And that my lady friends, is a win-win.

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Mary Krosnjar in Caché Orange Lace Sheath Dress

Mary Krosnjar in Caché Orange Lace Sheath Dress in the stables of Arlington Park

For as much as we celebrate sport and fashion here at SDI, cialis sale you can imagine how pumped we get each year when the Derby rolls around.

After all, buy what other sporting event warrants a smart new dress, sales a colorful wide-brimmed hat and the chance to cocktail in such a sophisticated manner?

I’ve been very fortunate and have attended several impressive sporting events in my life: the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Final Four..to name a few, but none of them compare to the atmosphere and energy that I found at the Kentucky Derby. From the magnificent Churchill Downs, to the incredible display of diverse ladylike fashion, to the amazing energy that is unleashed during those two minutes of the final race of the day, there’s something magical and timeless about the Derby.

Turn heads in the must-have color and fabric this spring: bold orange lace

Turn heads in the must-have color and fabric this spring: bold orange lace, Caché

If landing those coveted Clubhouse Derby Day tickets and a trip down to Louisville just aren’t in the books this year, you’ll find plenty of impressive Derby Day options right here in Chicago. Our city never shies away from the chance to throw a party around a sporting event and the opportunity to start boozing early on a Saturday. If your Derby Day plans aren’t yet confirmed, check out our list of recommendations on where to go this Saturday.

Of course, half the fun of Derby Day is dolling up for the big occasion. No other sporting event offers such an opportunity to make such a bold fashion statement while unleashing your inner southern belle.

The #1 Derby accessory: the perfect hat

The #1 Derby accessory: the perfect hat

But pulling together the perfect Derby Day look can be trickier than expected. After all, we’re still thawing out from Chiberia and haven’t seen temps push past 65 yet this season. Pulling together an impressive Derby Day dress, with accompanying hat and accessories can be quite daunting for the Chicago girl, who is still considering a permanent west-coast escape as she prevails through unpredictable May.

If a quick dose of Derby fashion inspiration is what you need in order to get out there and hunt down your perfect Derby look for Saturday, then you’re in luck. Regular SDI contributor, and one of Chicago’s rising fashion-blogger stars, Mary Krosnjar, a.k.a, “the Sportsanista” traveled to our #1 recommended destination, Arlington Park, this past weekend, for the perfect backdrop for some of this season’s most wanted Derby looks.

Mary Krosnjar in Floral Placement Halter Dress from Caché

Mary Krosnjar in Floral Placement Halter Dress from Caché, fascinator: Nordstrom 

We partnered with Caché for these Derby looks, the ideal place to check out the next time you are in the market for a dress – not just for the Derby, but for weddings, holidays, romantic vacations and that go-to staple for GNO. 

 Caché coupon

With a store in the 900 N. Michigan Shops as well as a huge selection on-line, Caché is offering SDI readers $25 off your purchase of $150 or more or $50 off your purchase of $250 or more. Use code 8128757 when checking out or simply print off this coupon and bring it in store. Hurry, promotion ends Monday, May 5th.

What's more appropriate for the Derby than a Mint Julep? A bright floral dress.

What’s more appropriate for the Derby than a Mint Julep? A bright floral dress, Caché

 

Be bold in an unconventional lace pantsuit paired off with a fascinator

Be bold in an unconventional lace pantsuit paired off with a fascinator: Embroidered Lace Wrap Jumpsuit, Caché, Fascinator: Nordstrom 

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Guaranteed to turn heads, the traditional black & white takes a twist with lace in a sexy and smart embroidered jumpsuit: Caché, Fascinator: Nordstrom 

Model:  Mary Krosnjar (check out Mary’s blog for additional photos and inspiration)

Dresses & pantsuit: Caché

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Chicago Bulls Mobile App

Chicago Bulls Mobile App

Like most sports fans these days, viagra I have a sports folder on my smartphone that keeps all of my sports apps nicely organized. When I need scores, sick news and schedules, medical I have plenty of options crammed into that itsy-bitsy folder: ESPN, CSN, FOX, Bleacher Report – you name it, I’ve probably got it in there somewhere.

As a working mother of toddler twins who rarely gets a chance to sit down until after 9pm most nights, I miss more live games than I care to admit. Usually, I’m catching the fourth quarter of the Bulls game or the third period of the Hawks, and it’s so rare that I’m not conquering multiple projects while watching the game: folding laundry, paying bills, updating this site, unloading the dishwasher…an uninterrupted viewing experience for me is as rare as a facial.

So, I heavily rely on my sports apps for my news and updates in lieu of live game entertainment. Considering how relatively tech-savvy I consider myself to be as a sports fan, you can imagine how silly I felt when I heard that the Chicago Bulls were the latest team to officially launch their own mobile app.

AT&T's Flagship store on Michigan Avenue, Source: Reatildesignblog.net

AT&T’s Flagship store on Michigan Avenue, Source: Reatildesignblog.net

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the AT&T Flagship store on Michigan Avenue for an official Bulls Digital Watch Party party hosted by the Bulls and AT&T, the presenting sponsor of the team’s new app and the exclusive communications sponsor of the United Center. Along with a hundred or so lucky fans, I enjoyed a VIP viewing experience as the beautiful store was transformed into a Bulls viewing party for their matchup that evening with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bulls legend Toni Kukoc was onsite, looking fabulous, fit and tan as ever, as were the Luvabulls, Benny the Bull and members of the Bulls marketing teams.

Chatting with Toni Kukoc

Chatting with Toni Kukoc

For those of you that have not stepped foot into AT&T’s gorgeous and massive Flagship location on the Mag Mile, whether you are in the market for a new phone or not, this place is worth checking out. Designed to bring lifestyle and tech together, the space is modern yet incredibly inviting with products and accessories displayed beautifully across the open space that is lined with the latest mobile products, devices and interactive displays.

Chic couches and cozy meeting spaces line the glass windows that face Ontario and a white lacquered bar with groovy seating invites customers to ask questions and troubleshoot similar to the Genius Bar at Apple.

Immediately upon entering your eye is drawn to the back of the store where colorful floor to ceiling displays offer a glimpse of the latest designer phone accessories available for purchase. Currently on display is the colorful and playful designer French Bull. I immediately snagged one of these snazzy covers for my new iPhone.

French Bull designer displays

French Bull designer displays

Local Chicago designers are featured on the monitors that line the back of the store and I was told that just recently even Common had designed phone accessories that were sold within the store, with proceeds benefitting Common’s charity, the Common Ground Foundation. 

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I had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with Jeremy Thum, the Director of Interactive Marketing and the lead behind the Bulls new app. After downloading the app to my phone, Jeremy walked me through the features. In addition to normal features of a sports app: scores, trending news stories, player and team stats, standings, and team schedule, etc., there are a few other cool bells and whistles that I particularly found interesting.

Great visuals

Great visuals

For those of us that are visual learners, the app features box score graphics and stats that require very little brain power (which is always good when multi-tasking during game time). Colors and bars show which team is leading in each category. The shot map is probably my favorite, indicating each specific place on the court a shot was taken by each player.

The social media tab gives you direct access to all of the Bulls social media channels including their growing Instagram account. Other features include live-streaming of the Bulls pre-game show. You can even buy tickets for upcoming games through your phone and study a virtual map of the United Center from the comfort of your own couch or seat at the UC. I found this feature particularly cool and handy. Gone are the days where you wander the halls of the UC looking for healthy food options or the bar that serves imports.

In addition to opening the incredible Flagship store on the Mag Mile, A&T has made other noteworthy strides in the market over the last year. Not only is the wireless carrier been awarded as the fastest network in Chicago, according to Root Metrics, but the company also gave fans a much-needed boost in cell service at the United Center by joining the arena’s new 4G LTE-capable Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to enhance the fan experience. This new (DAS) system, combined with the United Center’s enhanced Wi-Fi and free downloadable United Center app, provides Bulls and Blackhawks fans in attendance with live game action camera feeds, historical and current game highlights, statistics, and much more content for smartphones or tablets at all home games.

AT&T Sports Zone at the United Center, Source: AT&T

AT&T Sports Zone at the United Center, Source: AT&T

But wait, there’s more. A trip to the new AT&T Sports Zone, located in the concourse near section 114 at the United Center, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy during halftime and before tipoff. Fans can explore how to personalize their playlist with Beats Music on the new LG Flex and enjoy the latest music and game footage with Beats headphones.  Fans can also stay up to date with the NBA Play of the Week plus view live and exclusive content on the U-verse app.

Clearly, the race is on in Chicago, and I’m not just talking about the running of the Bulls. As AT&T fights for market share in a city that has traditionally been dominated by Verizon, and teams compete with national and regional sports nets for your time and interest, it’s the sports fans that are the real winners. Never before have we had so many options for great content and memorable fan experiences, right at our fingertips.

With AT&T's Erin McGrath

With AT&T’s Erin McGrath

Thankfully, the Bulls (and the Blackhawks) are both heading back to the the Playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in a row, leaving fans hungry for as much content as they can get their hands on. We are truly blessed as fans with great basketball and hockey in our city, which is the greatest perk any fan could ask for. Because no matter how sexy your app is, or how much content a team can pump out, without wins and playoff appearances, it’s just another app sitting in your folder.

Download the Chicago Bulls app at iTunes and the Google Play store today and never miss a beat during the upcoming Playoffs.

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