You can always count on the Chicago Bears to find a way to upset their fans.
It started last Friday when the team announced that every section of Soldier Field will see a ticket price increase for the 2020 season. Fans could see an adjustment from 1.6-5.3 percent and an average increase of 3.9 percent for next season.
The news came out two days before the 34-year anniversary of the Bears’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots. Despite the drought, the Bears organization felt it was right to raise the prices for a team that is still searching for their second Lombardi Trophy.
And a little over a week before the raised ticket prices were announced, the Bears decided to move training camp to Halas Hall in Lake Forest to take advantage of their newly renovated state-of-the-art facility. This decision ends the 18-year run of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
Selfishly, I was in favor of the move because it cut my commute to training camp from two hours to 15 minutes. But having training camp at Halas Hall extremely hinders the amount of people that can attend.
According to Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips, there will be “a public component to many of the sessions to incorporate our loyal and passionate fans.”
If fans are naive enough to believe Phillips, then go ahead, but Halas Hall can’t accommodate 10,000 fans like Olivet Nazarene University, and that is a fact.
The raised ticket prices and decision to move training camp indicate one thing about the franchise: the Bears don’t care about their fans.
How else could the organization justify raising prices after the team ended with an 8-8 record and third-place finish in the NFC North this past season?
Maybe Phillips and chairman George McCaskey are still living in the past with the glorious 12-4 season in 2018. Even though Chicago was eliminated in the first round, making the playoffs is an achievement for a team that routinely misses them.
However, the greedy organization also issued a price increase in 2017.
Yes, that was after the disastrous 3-13 season in 2016. The average ticket prices heading into the 2017 season went up 2.6 percent.
When you assess what essentially transpired the past couple of seasons, the Bears’ moves begin to look quite suspicious. First, raise ticket prices after the worst season in franchise history, then the following season invest in multi-million dollar renovations and finally raise the ticket prices for the next two seasons.
Anyone else see the problem with this?
Once the renovations, which included a revamped weight room, hydrotherapy pools and a 13,000 square-foot indoor turf training area among other things were complete, the Bears decided enough with Bourbonnais.
Moving training camp brings some major consequences: the town of Bourbonnais will lose a substantial amount of revenue. Children, most likely, will not have the same opportunity to get autographs, and only a select few of fans who obtain the free tickets will be able to watch practice. How is this in any way incorporating the fans?
The NFL is all about making money, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the billion-dollar franchise will do whatever to take their loyal fans’ money. Chicago loves their Bears, and the fans are still yearning for the possibility to cheer on a championship football team as they drive by on double-decker buses in downtown Chicago.
The people in charge at Halas Hall know that and will take advantage of that devotion and take every last dollar, because they know they can. Phillips may have the title as president and CEO, but he may as well add “Professional Thief” on his desk nameplate, too.
If the Bears were an organization that consistently made playoff appearances, were a threat to compete for the NFC North title or were even relevant by the time December started, then the increased ticket prices and training camp move wouldn’t be big issues.
Except that isn’t the Bears, and there is no guarantee general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are the ones to turn Chicago into a winning football team. There are several glaring holes on this Bears roster that Pace and Nagy have to address: quarterback, offensive line and tight end. And that is just the offense.
Until those positions are filled, the Bears won’t be competitive any time soon.
So, regardless of what happens at the end of the 2020 season, don’t be shocked if ticket prices increase again.
Because, remember, the Bears could care less.