Chicago Bears: How will team now connect with fans?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears are leaving Bourbonnais, and it’s imperative that they find new ways to connect with fans.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Bears announced they were moving their training camp from Bourbonnais, Illinois to Halas Hall beginning this summer. With the move comes questions as to how the team will find ways to connect with its fans.

Training camp was first held in Bourbonnais beginning in 2002, and over the last 18 summers, fans have enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere, while players have used it as an opportunity to connect with the fans that fill the seats on Sundays or who want to take advantage of a cheaper alternative than sending a family of four to Soldier Field.

However, the Bears recently spent millions of dollars renovating Halas Hall and the expectation has been that they would eventually move training camp to their new facilities, as the vast majority of NFL teams now do. But many were somewhat surprised that it happened so quickly.

So the question now becomes ‘how will the team ensure it maintains that connection with the fans?’ Starting last year, you could see the team beginning to restrict the “access” fans had to the team by cracking down on fan videos.

In Nagy’s first year, Twitter was flooded with videos of practice posted by fans, which was appreciated by those who aren’t able to attend training camp. Last year, those were essentially outlawed.

With the move to Halas Hall, they will also be significantly reducing their fan capacity. While it hasn’t been announced how many fans will be allowed to attend each practice, due to logistical issues limiting access and parking, it will be nowhere near what Bourbonnais can hold.

While the move is clearly best for the players, as it allows them to stay home and get access to much better treatment, care, and facilities, it comes at a somewhat unfortunate time in that the Bears are coming off a disappointing season.

The team’s Super Bowl aspirations were dashed fairly quickly, and fans are now suffering through an all too familiar feeling this offseason. Couple that with the team pulling back the reigns on their access to the team in what was a jovial, fun atmosphere, and they run the risk of alienating some if they don’t take measures to maintain that connection.

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This could come in the form of opening more practices to the public, or perhaps an extra intra-squad scrimmage. Greater outreach this offseason will also be a must. They will likely have to get creative to find other ways as well.

How the team will ensure the team and fans stay connected this offseason remains to be seen, but it’s critical for an organization that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2011.