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Cave Men

(08.26.10)  Dave Statis, (CQ), 41, is a Chicago Bears fans if there ever was one, and has a basement bathed in Bears stuff to prove it. In fact his favorite players are both Bears linebackers Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher (whose #54 jersey he's wearing).  He's lived in the Charlotte area for about four years. Except for the drywall he's done the painting, flooring and decorating himself. That's "Sweetness" Walter Payton on the wall in the background.  John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
(08.26.10) Dave Statis, (CQ), 41, is a Chicago Bears fans if there ever was one, and has a basement bathed in Bears stuff to prove it. In fact his favorite players are both Bears linebackers Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher (whose #54 jersey he's wearing). He's lived in the Charlotte area for about four years. Except for the drywall he's done the painting, flooring and decorating himself. That's "Sweetness" Walter Payton on the wall in the background. John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com JOHN D. SIMMONS

Dave Statis has been in Charlotte for four years, but his heart’s clearly still in his native Chicago, where he grew up on the blue-collar southwest side a devout Bears, White Sox and Blackhawks fan.Need evidence? You’ll find it in his UCity basement, a 1,200-square-foot ode to Chicago sports. Except for an autographed Steve Smith Panthers jersey, there’s nothing but Chicago teams memorabilia everywhere, right down to the blue Bears rug with the giant orange C logo that every fan knows is stamped on the team’s helmets.The walls are a matted bear orange. Hanging on them are a life-sized Walter Payton blazing toward the goal line, a huge NHL Black Hawks logo and framed White Sox (he doesn’t much care for the Cubs) tickets from the 2005 World Series. He’s got beer glasses with Chicago Tribune sports pages: The 1985 one, after the Bears went 15-1 and won the Super Bowl; and a 1961 one, after the Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup.Call it Statis’ testosterone-fueled “man cave” – his “manland,” his “manchuary.” Like millions of men in the Charlotte region and across America, he laid claim to the basement as his own and began building a shrine to his boyhood teams.Often, when he’s homesick, Statis goes to his basement just to dwell in his “man cave” – much like he did as a boy in his room back in Chicago that was filled with Bears and White Sox posters.“I do feel like I’m back at home when I’m down there,” says Statis, 41. “Whether it’s by myself, or my family or friends, it just makes me feel tied to the city.”The 4,000-square-foot house was new when the Statises bought it in 2006. Dave Statis told the builder to leave the basement unfinished. He designed the room, and was his own general contractor, hiring a crew to do the carpentry, drywall and plumbing. He had a bar built, and a guest bedroom walled off in the corner. There’s a private entrance that opens to a patio where time-outs and halftimes become cigar time.It’s become a neighborhood club, and place to hold Fantasy Football drafts. Sundays when the Bears are playing, Statis gets his wife and two children up early and to church, so the afternoon is free for football. As kickoff approaches, they all throw on Bears jerseys and descend to the cave to watch the game on the 50-inch flat-screen TV.“I tried to make the room as tasteful as possible,” he says. “You can get crazy with these things. Mine’s not to that point.”Yet.Neither is Jerry Allen’s bar at his UCity house.When he and wife Sue moved to Charlotte 15 years ago, they drove around looking at houses under construction. In one, they liked the open plan, with a living room and a den off of it. Then, through a pair of French doors, he saw a little room off the den that he figured was meant to be a library. Perfect space for a bar.They found the builder and hired him to build their house, using the same floor plan. The library became the Allen’s bar devoted to his love for NASCAR, beer and scotch.“I made a deal with my wife,” he says. “I told her, ‘I need two rooms that are mine, without any input from you. The bar. And the garage. The rest of the house is yours.’ She was fine with it.”The room’s slightly less than 12-by-12 feet. The bar is custom-made in oak by a carpenter whose religion keeps him out of bars. Forty percent of it is filled with NASCAR stuff, the rest with racks of several hundred beer glasses and antique steins. He’s displayed some model Lamborghinis, Corvettes and race cars.It’s big enough for a love seat and chair.The two-car garage? It protects his performance car: a 2002 Corvette Z06. The speed-themed bar and car hearkens back to his youth in New York, where as a teenager he drag raced at local tracks.Now the bar’s a good place to watch races, or other sports – especially when he installs a large flat-screen.The grandchildren are over on weekends, but the bar is off-bounds.“It is not child-proof,” Allen, 63, says. “It’s a good place to hang out for guys. When we go in there, it’s like we’re off in another place. We’re disconnected from the rest of the house. We really feel disconnected. Not in a bad way. We’re in our own little world.”

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