Chicago, prepare for a Minnesota takeover. For the next four days, the Windy City could feel like one big suburb of the Twin Cities.

Thursday-Saturday, the NFL draft is in Chicago. After 50 consecutive years in New York, the shift to a Midwest venue figures to give road trip-minded Vikings fans an excuse for a weekend getaway.

Friday and Sunday, of course, the Wild plays Games 1 and 2 of its second-round playoff series in Chicago against the Blackhawks.

As if Minnesotans needed any more fuel: Thursday night, legendary local band The Replacements are playing at Chicago's Riviera Theatre. If only MLB schedule-makers had put the four-game series between the Twins and White Sox in Chicago instead of Target Field. … Then again, maybe that would have been too much?

It already seems like an awful lot, even if the two main events — the NFL draft and the Wild — might not have much of a crossover audience. Wild fans just found out Tuesday that the games in Chicago are on Friday and Sunday. While plenty figure to make the trip, they will be spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Conversely, although there is an area at draft headquarters in Chicago free and open to the public, those who wanted to attend the actual event needed to do the legwork months ago.

Liz Miller, 45, knows all about that. Miller lives in Shoreview and considers herself a huge Vikings fans. Her actions speak to that dedication. On the night it was announced in October that the draft would be in Chicago, Miller booked a hotel two blocks from the draft site (Auditorium Theatre).

She then entered a lottery process to get two tickets, finding out about a week after the deadline that she had been granted access to Thursday's first round.

To claim those tickets, she must be at draft headquarters to get a wristband between noon and 2 p.m. Thursday, several hours before the first round starts.

Miller — who said she normally watches the draft on NFL Network while recording it on ESPN — said she plans to watch the Wild games at a Chicago sports bar.

The draft, though, is the main event. While she said she's a little nervous the Vikings will trade their first-round pick and wind up without a selection, mostly she's just ready for it to start.

"This is a bucket list item. I'm beyond excited," Miller said of attending the draft. "I can't wait."

The same goes for pretty much every Minnesota fan when it comes to the events about to transpire over the next four days in Chicago.

michael rand