The last few days of Bears chatter has fueled optimism among fans. So why not entertain the thought of having fans in the stands watching football this season at Soldier Field?
Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago Bears CEO Ted Phillips maintained hope that this NFL season will be played with fans in the stands. Phillips provided this glimmer of optimism while speaking on a Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce virtual meeting, which also featured Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. More on them in a moment.
But first, the money quote from Phillips.
“We’re still extremely hopeful, confident, that we’re gonna have a season with fans,” Phillips said. “It’s only good business practice to look at contingencies, and if we’ve learned anything in the past three months it’s expect the unexpected… But we’re still extremely hopeful.”
Despite the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has done all it can to position itself for a regularly scheduled start to its season. It has held free agency and amateur draft as scheduled. Teams across the league have also conducted virtual OTAs and meetings, while players have conducted individual workouts away from team campuses. Everything the league has done has been with the mindset of getting the 2020 regular season going as scheduled in early September. Although, Phillips also pointed out on the call that there is some built-in flexibility in case the league needs to tweak the schedule at any point. Contingency plans are good!
Speaking of which, Lieser noted in his story that Reinsdorf and Ricketts also chimed in on the discussion regarding having fans in stands. Both conceded that mandating fans to wear masks could be part of the process that allows them back into stadiums. Phillips wasn’t allowed an opportunity to chip in with his thoughts, but I imagine that might be part of the contingency plans he alluded to while sharing his optimism that there will be fans in the stands.
In addition to obvious revenue streams that fans in stands bring when they’re allowed in stadiums, the Bears have had a nice little home field advantage the last two seasons. Chicago is 11-5 at Soldier Field since the start of the 2018 season when Matt Nagy took over as head coach, with much of the heavy lifting coming in 2018 when the team was 7-1 in regular-season home games.