The Bears will move their entire training camp to Halas Hall in Lake Forest starting this summer, the team announced Tuesday.
The training camp schedule and more information about free public tickets for camp will be released later this spring.
The move after 18 years at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais comes on the heels of a major Halas Hall expansion project, which included a 162,500-square-foot football operations addition to the existing 143,000-square-foot facility. The project created a new weight room, locker room and cafeteria for the players and new offices and meetings rooms for coaches and staff.
Another project included the addition of two new practice fields and more parking spaces. Halas Hall sits at the end of the Conway Park business complex, off Interstate 94 and Route 60.
The Bears did not provide details about how limited attendance will be, but they will maintain “a public component to many of the sessions to incorporate our loyal and passionate fans,” Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement. In 2019 the Bears had eight practices open to the public in Bourbonnais and one at Soldier Field.
“Olivet Nazarene University continues to be a valued and committed partner, but with the recent investment in our campus expansion and state-of-the-art facilities in Lake Forest, we feel it is important to stay home for training camp,” Phillips said. “We would like to thank Olivet Nazarene University, including President John Bowling, and the Bourbonnais community for their 18 years of partnership and hospitality.”
Olivet Nazarene is about 60 miles south of Chicago, and players and coaches bunked for parts of three weeks in late July and early August on the campus, which included four practice fields. On the final day of camp in 2019, more than 9,000 fans showed up to the campus as Super Bowl expectations swelled.
The Bears signed an agreement in 2013 to extend training camp at Olivet Nazarene through 2022, but it was noted at the time of the announcement that the agreement was a series of one-year, rollover contracts that would give the Bears an out if so desired.
At least one former Bears player agreed with the move. Offensive lineman Kyle Long tweeted “it’s time to put to use that amazing facility.”
Before Bourbonnais, the Bears spent 17 years at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, a more than three-hour drive from Chicago. They previously held camp in Lake Forest, at Lake Forest College, from 1975-83.
According to NFL Communications, 22 of 32 teams stayed home for training camp in 2019, meaning they practiced at their own facility or stadium or a site within 10 miles of team headquarters. That number was up from 10 in 2000.
Olivet Nazarene tweeted their thanks to the Bears upon the announcement.
Bears training camp history
1930: Mills Stadium, Chicago
1931: Loyola University, Chicago
1932: Logan Square Ballpark, Chicago
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1933: University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.
1934: Lane Tech High School, Chicago
1935-43: St. John’s Military Academy, Delafield, Wis.
1944-74: St. Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, Ind.
1975-83: Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Ill.
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1984-2001: University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Platteville, Wis.
2001-2019: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Ill.
2020: Halas Hall, Lake Forest, Ill.
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