Chicago Bears Training Camp Returning Home After 36 Years Away at Remote Locations in Platteville and Bourbonnais

The Chicago Bears announced Tuesday, January 14, 2020 that beginning the Summer of 2020, training camp will be held at the newly renovated Halas Hall in Lake Forest. The move follows 18 consecutive summers at Olivet Nazerene University in Bourbonnais, which followed 18 summers of training camp at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville from 1984-2001.

The Chicago Bears reported Tuesday, January 14, 2020, that a limited number of free tickets will be available to attend practice at the Lake Forest facility.

According to the Chicago Bears, more details about training camp at home in Lake Forest will be announced this spring, following the release of the 2020 schedule.

“We will host training camp practices at Halas Hall in 2020, while maintaining a public component to many of the sessions to incorporate our loyal and passionate fans.”

— Ted Phillips Bears President & CEO

“Olivet Nazarene University continues to be a valued and committed partner … but with the recent investment in our campus expansion and state-of-the-art facilities in Lake Forest, we feel it is important to stay home for training camp. We would like to thank Olivet Nazarene University, including President John Bowling, and the Bourbonnais community for their 18 years of partnership and hospitality.”

— Ted Phillips Bears President & CEO

The Chicago Bears were one of the NFL’s last teams to operate training camp at a site separate from their home facility. The home facility’s expansion project is more than double the facility’s initial square footage with a focus on enhancing football operations, developing a weight-room expansion and upgrades, and featuring playing field upgrades and expansion. The Chicago Bears now have four outdoor practice fields (up from two), and the one indoor practice field at the Walter Payton Center.

According to the Chicago Bears, only three NFL teams held training camp at their home facilities in 1990. But in the summer of 2020, the Bears will be among 25 of 32 teams that won’t travel to a remote location for summer training camp. NFL teams that have recently returned home for training camp include the Jets, Giants, Eagles, Cardinals, Bengals, Ravens and Vikings.

The last period that the Chicago Bears held training camp at Halas Hall was during nine summers from 1975-83, when they used Farwell Field — the main college football field at Lake Forest College. Bears offices were at Ferry Hall from 1975 to 1978. The former Halas Hall was built in 1978 and is still in use by Lake Forest College on the South Campus at Lake Forest College near Illinois Road and Washington Road. The building is now the home of the Lake Forest College Athletics Department, and is still known as Halas Hall.

The Chicago Bears built their existing Halas Hall building complex with practice facilities in 1997 at 1920 Football Drive in Lake Forest, just northeast of Route 60 and I-94.

In August 2019 the Bears unveiled an expanded Halas Hall, highlighted by a 162,500-square foot football operations addition to the already-existing 143,000-square foot facility and a 30,600-square-foot remodeling project on the northeast side of the building.

Position meeting rooms and the draft room doubled in size, while coaches’ offices increased by 50 percent. A 3,250-square-foot players’ lounge was created, along with an a 1,700-square-foot player locker room. The coaches/scouts locker room was also expanded and now includes a sauna and steam room.

The weight room increased by 2,000 square feet, while the equipment room, recovery space and nutrition/fuel station doubled in size. The equipment room now includes a helmet-fitting room, footwear- and shoulder pad-fitting area, sewing room and high-density storage cabinets. Additionally, the sports medicine space is four times larger than the original area and features two hydrotherapy pools, two plunge pools, a float pod, sauna and steam room. A 13,000-square-foot indoor turf space was also added.

Through a separate construction project, two additional football fields were built to the east of the Walter Payton Center, which allows the Bears to spread out the field use over four fields. That project also included the addition of a training slope, a storage facility and a practice viewing suite for corporate partners and other VIP guests.

SOURCES:
CHICAGOBEARS.COM | Bears moving training camp back to Halas Hall (Jan. 14, 2020)

CHICAGOBEARS.COM | Bears unveil sparkling Halas Hall expansion (Aug. 29 2019)

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