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Is Loyola Becoming a “Sports School?”

By Ben Bissell 

The energy in the air is thick with emotion.

The AlamoDome in San Antonio has been a madhouse for over three hours, with thousands of fans from the last four teams in the 2018 NCAA March Madness Men’s Basketball Tournament screaming with school spirit and chanting their universities fight songs. Tempers flare, cheers are spread, and tears are shed as teams win and lose, two teams go home and two remain.

Back home in Chicago, the atmosphere is the same. Loyola University Chicago has been buzzing for weeks over the excitement that this year’s tournament run has brought them.

School spirit in the United States varies by university. Some schools spread it nationally, while others tend to shy away from national recognition.

Loyola has historically been a school hidden from the national spotlight in terms of athletics. Before the Men’s Volleyball team winning back to back National Championships in 2014 and 2015, Loyola’s athletic program had not seen national recognition since the 1963 Men’s Basketball National Championship team.

With this year’s historic March Madness run, however, Loyola is officially back on the map as a “sports school.”

With the team’s success in the tournament, Loyola has seen a huge influx of new spirit into its basketball program over the past two months. With huge increases in their website traffic, apparel sales, and season ticket preorders, Loyola is beginning to show the early signs of an emerging sports school.

Rachel Odenthal, Loyola Athletics expert and former group ticket sales intern for the men’s basketball team, said, “Making it that far gives everyone the same sense of anticipation for the next game and season. It increases school pride and involvement, and Loyola has received so much positive press that ticket sales for next year have already increased and I believe enrollment/admission will increase as well.”

Odenthal also said that season ticket sales for next season have almost already sold out, with Loyola reaching out to current students and soon-to-be alumni through university email accounts to advertise the remaining tickets.

Odenthal isn’t the only one to notice the increasing trend in Loyola as a “sports school.”

Allan Sorsby, a business student and die-hard Ramblers fan who attended every home game this year, said “Loyola has not been known to be a sports school, but now that they are on the map, people are proud to be Ramblers. Not only within the school community, but also within Rogers Park. You can see all the local shops showing their support for the Ramblers.”

Sorsby is right. The entire Rogers Park community showed their support and saw a lot of visitors in the past couple months, mostly alumni, trying to show their support for the Ramblers.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Sister Jean bobbleheads, a hot commodity during March Madness sold by the popular sports retailer website “Fanatics,” sold more than 10,000 units in less than four weeks.

Loyola apparel also made a huge leap in sales, selling more gear in the weekend leading up to the Final Four than they had all season long. Merchandise sales at the Lake Shore Campus became so popular in the bookstore they expanded into the neighboring storefront that used to be an organic grocery store.

Sales have increased 2,000 percent compared to last year’s sales at the time.

The success of the men’s basketball team has even begun to turn the heads of non-sports enthusiasts, such as current senior Ryan Stahulak.

“I’m really not a huge sports fan, to begin with. However, this March Madness and all the hype around campus has been too hard to, ” Stahulak said. “I have been watching every game and have really been getting into the spirit because its energizing to see so much pride in Loyola.”

Stahulak is just the latest example of a student joining the popular trend of becoming a Ramblers fan. As apparel sales continue to rise and season tickets sell out, Ramblers fans are finally getting a taste of what it means to be a “sports school.”

“I really just cannot wait to see what they do next year. I know a lot of my friends and I already have planned to attend the first home game next season and will definitely be making it out to some more to support our guys. After all their hard work and the continued success of this program, things are really going to be different around here

Even with a loss to Michigan in the Final Four, the energy has not died for Ramblers fans, and many cannot wait to have their season start again next fall.

School spirit may be a hard trend to start, but Loyola University Chicago proved that even with all the odds stacked against you, even the mid-major sports programs can become national icons and turn their universities into “sports schools.”

 

People on the street: How do you feel about the new Target?

By Ben Bissell

Get ready, Rogers Park.

This year, you’ll notice more traffic, more jobs and more red bullseyes in the area.

Last September, construction began on an eight story building at 6418 North Sheridan Road. It will contain 111 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space.

Target has signed a lease for the spot.

We asked local residents how they feel about the new Target.

Opinions were mixed. Some fear the big box retailer will hurt small business owners and chip away at the area’s charm. Others are excited that shopping – for everything from throw pillows to milk – will soon be easier.

Gentrification was mentioned by nearly everyone interviewed.

“With a new Target in the neighborhood, we are going to see a huge influx of individuals from other surrounding areas. While this may be good for community development, I am concerned that this is just another example of gentrification,” said Aminatu Rubango, a resident of Edgewater.

Rubango felt this may just be another way that the community is giving in to “big corporate pockets.”

 

Daryn Robinson,  who is new to Rogers Park, worries about the mom and pop stores in the area. “Although it may open up jobs in the community, I think it causes too much damage to the people who work hard here every day to make an honest living.”

Mary Myers, a DePaul University student who resides in Edgewater, says that a new Target will not change her shopping habits.  “Like a lot of people, I shop at small, local stores on purpose.”

Others, however, are excited about the new Targer. Drew Majewski, a four-year resident of Rogers Park, said, “This is exactly the kind of business I want to see more of.  I love the local places, but I need a place that carries everything so I don’t have to travel far.”

Lola Montero says the new Target will ultimately benefit consumers. “Competition is good,” she said.  “It will force other stores to be more competitive and drive down prices.”

Josie Abundes, a student at Loyola University Chicago, says the store will make life easier for everyone in the area, especially college students.  “Target has all of the essentials.”

The store will open in fall of 2019.

‘Tomb Raider’ Reboot Underwhelms on Opening Weekend

by Ben Bissell

Running through the jungle, jumping large crevasses, climbing enormous obstacles, and shooting her way out of danger – these are just a few of the daily chores Laura Croft tackles in Tomb Raider, a new movie currently showing at New 400 Theater in Rogers Park.

The popular video game- turned-movie franchise opened on March 16.

Many critics feel the film isn’t any better than the original Tomb Raider movies, which starred Angelina Jolie.

This film provides fans with the backstory of Laura Croft, the movie’s heroine.

Many critics felt the plot was flawed since many fans already know the history of Laura Croft from the original movies. “If we get the second installment of this second Tomb Raider’ live-action series, it may well be the movie we should have gotten the first time around,” said Scott Mendelson of Forbes.

As of March 18, Tomb Raider has grossed $23.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $102.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $126 million around the globe. In order to break-even, the film needs to gross $275 million worldwide. The film finished second at the box office behind Black Panther, which grossed $27 million in its fifth week.

 

Film Set in Rogers Park Premieres Tonight

By Ben Bissell

Have you already seen “Black Panther?”

Tonight, check out a smaller budget film set entirely in Rogers Park.

The film debuts tonight in the New 400 Theater in Rogers Park.

According to the Chicago Reader, the film is centered around the chaotic lives of two middle-aged couples facing personal crises. It also portrays the realities of the historic neighborhood, highlighting the diversity of Rogers Park and the variety of career options that are available for the individuals who reside there.

Each individual at the ending of Rogers Park has the perspective of life as a “work in progress.”

In an interview with the Chicago Reader, the film’s director, Kyle Henry, had this to say about that perspective, “That was something I struggled with a lot, getting the end right. We actually reshot the whole ending of the film…In one year of the life of a human being, you’re going to travel a certain distance down the road, but you’re not going to have that tidy closure.”

The film was shown at the Chicago International Film Festival last fall.

Black Panther Triumphs at the Box Office

Opening weekend sales for the Black Panther met the much anticipated hype, setting a box office record at $192 million.

The film stars Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther, and primarily features an African American cast. This is the first movie released by  Marvel Cinematic Universe to do so.
According to Polygon, the film beat out 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool for the biggest opening in the month of February.

Deadpool generated over $132 million domestically when it hit theaters in 2016.

Disney is expecting Black Panther to generate around $218 million around the country at the end of the four-day weekend, making it the fifth-highest debut of all-time and the largest-grossing debut by an African American director.

The film also generated positive reviews from critics. The film has received a 97 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a popular site for critical acclaims.

This film can now be seen at New 400 Theater in Rogers Park in either standard viewing or 3D.