CHICAGO – It’s a trivia question that some fans wish they wouldn’t have had to answer but one that’s come up recently.
When was the last time the Bears were able to have fans at a regular season home game?
The answer to that is December 22, 2019, when the team lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 26-3 on Sunday Night Football. That was the team’s last home game before the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept the fans away for the 2020 season.
All eight games that were played at Soldier Field during the regular season last year were in front of no fans, but that will finally change on Sunday.
The Bears will be able to host a full capacity of fans for their 2021 home opener against the Bengals at Noon on the lakefront. The team has already had fans at two exhibition home games in August against the Dolphins then Bills, but Sunday marks a more official return of fans to Soldier Field.
“It will be really neat. We missed that. We really do. Now the preseason game was a good taste of it because our fans were rocking on the preseason, and that’s such a huge advantage,” said head coach Matt Nagy of the crowd returning. “We talk about it as a team, making sure that we protect Soldier Field, we want to protect Soldier Field, and we need the fan’s help with that.
“The players feed off of that, the coaches feed off of that. That’s real.”
Indeed not having fans at Soldier Field didn’t help the team as they finished with a 3-5 record in their eight home games in 2020. Nagy’s teams are 14-11 in his tenure in Chicago, with the record boosted by a 7-2 record in 2018.
Fans coming into the stadium will see some things that are the same and others that are different in 2021. Masks won’t be required in the seating bowl but masks will be required at spots indoors at Soldier Field per local mandate. Vaccinations for COVID-19 will also be available in the Miller Lite Fan Zone before and during the game for fans who’d like to get one.