CHICAGO — As part of their 100th anniversary celebration, the Bears will get the honor of starting off the 2019 season for the entire National Football League.
On Monday, the NFL confirmed that the Bears will host the Packers on Thursday, September 5th at Soldier Field to open up the new campaign. This is a change from the tradition of allowing the defending Super Bowl champions to host the game, but it was changed due to the significance of the Bears’ centennial celebration.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 25, 2019
The Patriots, who are the defending Super Bowl champions, will open on Sunday night instead. It marks the first time that the Bears have begun an NFL season with a Thursday night game.
“As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL,” said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey in a statement released by the team. “As a charter franchise, we cannot think of a better way to begin our centennial season by hosting our longtime rival in prime time at Soldier Field.”
This will mark the second-straight season that the Bears are facing the Packers to start the season and the third time in the last five years they’ve done so, having also hosted the Packers to begin the 2015 season.
Green Bay won that game along with the one in 2018, as they rallied back from a 20-point deficit to stun the Bears 24-23 at Lambeau Field in Week 1. The Bears would finish the rest of the season by winning 12 of 15 games, including the rematch against the Packers in December, to capture their first NFC North title since 2010.
Along with the season opener come a number of events outside the stadium and in Chicago as part of the season opening celebration, which will be a first for the city.
“Chicago is honored to host the NFL’s 2019 kickoff game and centennial celebration,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement released by the Bears. “George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas and the NFL’s co-founders probably didn’t imagine the federation they established 100 years ago in cities and towns across the Midwest would one day be the most successful professional sports league in the world, but that’s what their vision achieved.
“Chicago – the most American of American cities – is the perfect venue for this game and on September 5th, all eyes will be on Soldier Field as the Monsters of the Midway take the field to celebrate the start of the NFL’s centennial season.”