This weekend is a Grand Prix on one of the best cities in the country, Chicago. The format is Modern and we will have a few Roxie Card players on site competing in the event. Modern has been revving up ever since Pro Tour: Return to Ravnica, and the format continues to see play at Grand Prix events. Grand Prix Chicago will be held in a great location in the city and we have a guide to give you a run down of it all.

Grand Prix events are held in many great location’s in their respective cities. Grand Prix Nashville was at the Gaylord Opryland, a giant hotel resort with indoor forests and waterways, while Grand Prix Atlanta was set at the Hyatt downtown, in the heart of the city. Grand Prix Chicago is no different, taking place at Navy Pier, a great venue in the heart of the city. For first time visitors to the city, this location is right on Lake Michigan with downtown Chicago as it’s backdrop. There are many things to do at the event location and just a quick walk to the shopping and restaurants on Michigan Avenue.

The Event

First, the reason you are coming to Chicago, the Grand Prix. If you haven’t read the details, here is the basic rundown.

 

Format: Modern
Participation Fee: $40

Registration and Schedule

  • Friday, November 9: Registration 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 10: Registration 8:00 am – 9:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, November 10: Tournament begins at 10 a.m.
  • Sunday, November 11: Day Two begins at 9 a.m.

Hosted by Pastimes, more details, including side event details, can be found here.

 

Besides the main event, there will be a ton of great side events to keep you entertained all weekend. This event has the usual sleep in specials and also introduces another concept, the VIP Program. At a cost of $60, this program offers the following:

– Sleep in special* (*Obviously you have to have earned your byes. If you do not have byes, no sleep in special)
– Fixed seating through the first day.** (***To keep the integrity of the event, the software to run Magic Events may pair fixed seated players together. If this is the case, fixed seating for one player may be broken for that round. There may be some restrictions in later rounds. We apologize for any inconvenience)
– 10 coupons for bottles of water through the weekend
– Artist signing service. We can bring cards to the artists for you. We will also be arranging a special time for VIPs to meet with the artists in a closed setting.
– Everyone should know you are a VIP, so you will also receive a special VIP playmat from the event.
– A special VIP line for registering for events throughout the weekend. No need to wait – you’re a VIP!
If you would like to sign up for the VIP Program, head straight to the VIP line to register.

An interesting concept, and one that I’m not against (although I wouldn’t pay for something like this), this service allows players to pay for the convenience and status service of sorts. Think Bottle Service at a nightclub. And like bottle service at a club, is the price worth the benefits. If you qualify for the Sleep In special, you save $20. Bottle water coupons are a nice little bonus and if the value the bottle of water at $2 (which they probably do), you are getting another $20 worth of value. Fixed seating is an interesting concept and if that means you get some extra play room, could be worth a good bit to some players. Artist signing service, while nice, seems like a hit or miss depending on how bad you want to meet an artist and speak with them one on one. Most times, people will have time to get cards signed and talk to their artist so this may not be too great of a feature. A VIP line sounds like a waste as lines aren’t that out of hand that you need to spend extra to skip them. Finally, you get a special VIP playmat. Depending on what they look like and quality, this could be about $10 – $15 value. Overall, we are getting close to the $60 worth of your money for the VIP Program. While not for everyone, it will be an ideal choice for player who don’t mind spending a extra for convenience. If anyone does sign up for this and experiences it, let me know how it went.

As for the artists, we have a great lineup with Mark Tedin, Steve Argyle, and rk Post in attendance. If you are a fan of their work (and you should be), be sure to stop by and get signatures. They’ll also have prints and other art you can purchase.

The Venue

 

Navy Pier is a attraction on Lake Michigan near the Chicago River. This place has a ferris wheel, restaurants, and rooms for event such as the Grand Prix. For full details you can check out their website here. There are plenty of dining options on the pier and it really depends on how far you want to walk and how much time you have to decide on what to eat. There is a food court at the entrance of the pier and a Beer Garden set up further down. Since this is a tourist attraction, prices will be a bit higher, but as you know, during events convenience is important. I’m not sure if the event hall will have food, but if they do, expect it to be overpriced. If you have time, walk around the pier and enjoy the sights. Picking a location such as Chicago in November may have not been the best idea for Wizards, so make sure you bring a jacket. You are on the waterfront so expect a high wind and keep your cards together, you don’t want part of your collection blowing into the lake.
As for hotels, you are in the city so expect everything to be expensive if you are staying nearby. Also most hotels charge for parking there so remember that. Otherwise, staying further out and driving in may be worth it. Traffic shouldn’t be too bad on a Saturday morning, but make sure you leave early enough just in case.

The City

The city viewed from the John Hancock Building

The Windy City. Also known as the Second City, Chicago is a marvelous site for first time visitors. This city is known for it’s impressive skyscrapers, loyal sports fans, and it’s food (notably Chicago Style Pizza). It’s easy to be overwhelmed and like most major cities, has heavy traffic. Navy Pier is located close to the actual downtown of the city, but it is in a popular and busy part of town. If you are staying anywhere nearby, there are a ton of places to check out on Michigan Avenue, including the John Handcock building. I highly recommend visiting this building if you have the chance. While the observation deck does charge to go up, heading to the restaurant/lounge a few floor below is free. The best plan is to go to the restaurant and order a drink or an appetizer. That way, you get a great view of the city for relatively cheap.

Searching how to

Other free sights include a giant Marilyn Monroe statue, just north of the river and Millennium park to the south of the river. This park has the “Bean”, a reflective structure that has become an attraction itself. All these places are quite a walk from Navy Pier so you may want to take a cab to these locations.

Overall, this should be fun Grand Prix. Modern may not be the most exciting format but it is still fun and growing. As I mentioned, both Alex Binek and Andrew Schneider will be in attendance so make sure you say hi to them if you are going to the event. Next week, we shall take a look at Grand Prix Charleston.