The Madhouse on Madison – The History of Chicago’s United Center
The United Center, Chicago’s towering arena, has been host to hundreds of events and millions of guests since it opened its doors in 1994. Built to replace the Chicago Stadium – the original “Madhouse on Madison,” which had been standing since 1929 – the United Center was part of a collaboration project between the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL and the Chicago Bulls of the NBA.
The United Center’s Legacy Today
Funded by Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf at a cost of $175 million, construction on the massive arena took nearly two years to complete, but most Chicagoans would agree that it was well worth the wait. The United Center is the largest arena in the country and seats between 19,700 and 23,000 people – depending upon the event – with standing space for several hundred more.
Ostensibly, the most famous feature of the United Center is its statues. The east side of the stadium features a statue of Michael Jordan from the Bulls, as well as Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita from the Blackhawks. By the building’s north side Madison Street entry are several statues of other historic members of the Blackhawks’ team.
Since its opening, the United Center has drawn in top names in sports and entertainment, from the Bulls and the Blackhawks to a host of other iconic guests and conventions:
- The WWE
- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
- Champions on Ice
- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus
- 1996 Democratic National Convention
With more than 200 events per year, the United Center is a busy venue in the heart of the city, and with the upcoming basketball and hockey seasons fast approaching, there’s more reason now than ever to experience one of the cornerstones of Chicago’s intricate culture.
Let Shoreline Sightseeing Show You Chicago as You’ve Never Seen Her!
If you are visiting the city for an event at the United Center, consider exploring Chicago by boat before or after attending the stadium. Shoreline Sightseeing offers several different tour options along the Chicago River or Lake Michigan. For more information, feel free to contact us at (312) 222-9328.