MUSEUM CAMPUS — Chicagoans are gearing up for another Blackhawks championship run, but the club's biggest fan won't even have its sweater.
The 75-foot-long brachiosaurus skeleton replica outside the Field Museum off Lake Shore Drive will be without its customary team uniform for the Stanley Cup Finals, which begin Wednesday.
The reason? Blame the weather.
"The sweater we used last year took more of a 'Chicago weather' beating than we realized," a Field spokeswoman said via email. "When we took it out this year, we learned we'd have to make a new one, and unfortunately, didn't have the time to do so."
No new dinosaur sweater means one less public display of Blackhawks affection from one of Chicago's most recognizable landmarks. The bronze lion statues in front of the Art Institute have worn team helmets during the club's recent playoff runs, as well as the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza, which donned a helmet during the 2010 championship season. A spokeswoman for the Art Institute said the lions' helmets will be installed Wednesday.
What you won't see this summer. [Flickr/Justin Zuure]
Of course, a sweater fit for a brachiosaurus skeleton is no mere jersey. Gary Heitz of Chicago Scenic Studios, a Goose Island-based company that makes and installs the sweaters, said making the jersey can take up to 10 days, and the installation most of one.
David Matthews says there's no time to make a new jersey:
"You gotta get the fabric in, gotta cut the shape, gotta get it sewn and get the details painted on there," Heitz said. The perforated jersey fabric is the same material used for tennis nets, and because the jersey can't touch the skeleton, a metal frame must be built around the dinosaur's torso, he said. Heitz said the sun faded the old sweater's color too much last summer for display this year.
The Field spokeswoman said the museum will garner a baby sculpture inside with a sweater, something Field has done before. The Blackhawks will resume their quest for three Stanley Cups in six seasons in Game One of the Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
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