Aug 7, 2023 - Sports

The Chicago Bears camp at home

Photo of a facade of a building with a statue out front.
Halas Hall in Lake Forest. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

The Chicago Bears are entering their third week of training camp, preparing for their first preseason game at Soldier Field on Saturday.

Why it matters: The Bears recently moved their training camp to Halas Hall in Lake Forest, abandoning a long-held tradition to give fans a chance to see the team closer to home.

Flashback: Throughout the franchise's history, the team has held camp in nearby small towns in Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. Some fans would make the trek to watch the Bears as part of family vacations, while the players shared dorm rooms.

Photo of a coach talking to players on practice field.
Mike Ditka during the first full day of workouts in Platteville, Wisconsin, in 1986. Photo: Gary Bettmann archives/Getty Images

Yes, but: In 2020, the Bears moved camp back to their headquarters in Lake Forest after they renovated their practice facilities. Now players and personnel can go home after practice, or stay in a nearby hotel.

Context: NFL teams used to conduct training camps off-site at small college campuses, but several franchises have changed course and use their normal practice facilities instead.

  • The Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers are some of a handful of teams that still use nearby campuses.

What they're saying: "This is our third year hosting fans at Halas Hall for training camp," Bears senior vice president of marketing and communications Scott Hagel tells Axios.

  • "Fans bring energy and enthusiasm to our practices, which helps us prepare for the season."

Details: The Halas Hall facilities are massive, sporting several new amenities, including a number of practice fields.

  • Fans stand at the edge of the fields or cram in bleachers to watch stars like Justin Fields work out while rap blares over the loudspeakers.
Photo of a football player stretching on a practice field
New Chicago Bear D.J. Moore (No. 2) stretches before training camp workouts begin. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

That's not all. The Bears' new fan features have made it feel more like a street festival than football practice.

  • They've reconfigured their parking lot to include live performances, autograph booths, face painters and food trucks.
Photo of football fans in jerseys walking around parking lot festival
Fans at the Chicago Bears training camp. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

What's next: Tickets are free but need to be secured in advance. The last public practice will be Thursday.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more