CHICAGO – If all goes to plan, they’ll be seeing many, many more fans when they pull into Soldier Field on August 14th, August 21st, then a full house on September 12th.
Those first two dates – exhibition games against the Dolphins and Bills – will be the team’s first with spectators in their home stadium since December 22, 2019. That was their regular season home finale against the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
That kept spectators away from the Bears’ eight home games during the 2020 season, leaving an empty feeling in the venue that sets just over 61,000 people.
So when a collection of fans were able to watch the team at Soldier Field on Tuesday as part of the team’s annual Fan Fest, it was quite an occation.
“I love the way it was today,” said inside linebacker Danny Trevathan of getting to practice in front of fans at Soldier Field. “I was definitely happy to see fans back out there. It was so boring without them. If felt great to have them out there and we appreciate them coming.”
While a normal yearly event in non-pandemic years, this one had a little extra energy with some spectators able to finally return to the team’s stadium. It is the only training camp practice in 2021 that will not be at the team’s Lake Forest headquarters, where a limited amount of fans have been able to watch practice.
Matt Nagy’s team had the different element with the travel to Soldier Field for the practice, passing the fans who were taking part in the activities outside before heading in to watch practice.
“Today was practice, but it was like it was a gameday,” said Nagy of Tuesday. “The busses were quiet, we rolled up, we see all the fans getting ready to come in all their jerseys.”
When they got into the seats, they got to see the Bears’ first padded practice of the summer, further adding to an eventful late morning and early afternoon.
“Great, all of it,” said Trevathan of the practice. “To have the fans back, you could definitely feel our rise in play pick up a little bit.”
Just imagine what gameday will be like.