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Chicago bar owners getting creative to get fans in the door as sports teams struggle

One North Side bar owner promised a Bears win Sunday or he would cover every customer’s tab. He is out about $5,000 but said the move was worth it

When Chicago sports teams area down or out, bar owners are forced to get creative to bring in the fans.

On the city's North Side, Claddagh Ring Pub owner Kris Jackson did just that over the weekend.

His strategy came in the form of a free bar tab for every customer if the Bears fell to the Broncos. And fall they did.

Now, Jackson is out about $5,000, but he said the buzz surrounding his bet has put his small neighborhood bar on the map.

“We had to pay the tabs, but in the end, we’ll definitely benefit," he said. "Just the buzz it created and everyone having that great experience."

But for bar owners like Jackson, it can seem like sales are at the mercy of team performance.

"As a bar owner we definitely depend on our sports teams doing well.”

It’s not just the Bears’ losing streak that has bar owners working to make up some business, but also the fact that the Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs and the White Sox season ended with more than 100 losses.

“Fans are great, the playoffs are awesome,” said Wrigleyville bar owner Sam Sanchez.

Like Jackson, Sanchez is focused on diversifying and offering different kinds of events.

He said he can’t rely on the Bears or the Cubs to offer a boost in business.

“If your team is not that good, you don’t want to depend on that team, but you do parties, pub crawls, and bands, and you just diversify,” Sanchez explained. “We do wish they played better but it doesn’t knock the wind out of us.”

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