Chicago Bears move training camp to Lake Forest’s Halas Hall

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chicagobears.com

A look outside the main entry of Halas Hall in Lake Forest.

Michael Raupp, Sports Editor

Michael Raupp, Editor

LAKE FOREST, IL — For the first time in 18 seasons, the Chicago Bears will not be making their annual trip straight south to Bourbonnais, where the team would train on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University during the summer months of July and August in preparation for the upcoming season.

The move to train at their home facility, Halas Hall, is not a new concept for teams in the National Football League. In 2019, 25 of 32 NFL teams opted to stay at their usual practice facility rather than relocate for training camp, largely due to the investments teams have put into their practice facilities in the last several years, including the Bears.

When the Bears started their upgrade of Halas Hall facility in Lake Forest back in March 2018, it only felt like a matter of time until this transition would take place. The team unveiled in August that the renovations included more than doubling the facility in square footage and added two additional football fields. Furthermore, the team expanded their headquarters through adding a new locker room, weight room, cafeteria, conference rooms, and offices.

 

The last time the Bears practiced in Lake Forest for training camp was in 1975-83 where the team practiced at Lake Forest College. Nonetheless, the move will undoubtedly impact the city of Bourbonnais that will no longer have thousands of fans making the pilgrimage to their city to watch their beloved Chicago Bears; the team had 9,141 fans in attendance for their final day of open practice on August 10th, and over 60,000 in total throughout camp — the highest in years due to the high expectations the fanbase had for the team heading into the 2019 season. The loss of foot traffic will mean major losses of revenue in stores, bars, and restaurants, which will be difficult for a city to recover from that has benefited from fans venturing their city from all over when the team is in town. 

The team, according to their official website, insists fans will still have the opportunity to watch practices for free at Halas Hall, however, the question still remains how many and the extent of accessibility that has made Bears fans feel apart of the activities in years past in Bourbonnais. Tickets are said to be “limited” and will be made available in the spring once the 2020 regular season schedule has been announced by the NFL. 

Regardless of the location of training camp, the Bears have their work cut out for them from now until then to rebound from a disappointing 8-8 season that was a major step back from going 12-4 and being crowned NFC North champions in head coach Matt Nagy’s first year under command in 2018.