Chicago Bears fans knew that the 2020 season was going to be different once the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into high gear. What they don’t yet know is just how different. Will the Bears play a full schedule? Will fans even be allowed in the stands? The reality is nobody can say for sure because so much of it depends on what the virus does.
One thing people haven’t considered is training camp. It’s common knowledge by now that the Bears had planned to start holding their summer work sessions at the new practice facilities at Halas Hall in Wake Forest. This after several years of partnership with Bourbonnais, Illinois. However, even that plan might be put on hold.
According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, several teams might have to find camp locations outside of their home states.
“Per sources, a number of teams are already deep into exploring out-of-state training camp sites, in anticipation that their states’ restrictions will make staging camp at home in late July and early August impossible. Simple reality dictates that the 10 teams in the Northeast corridor and on the West Coast need to get ahead of this now.
In Seattle, the best-case scenario, based on the plans laid out by the state, is that gatherings of over 50 people are allowed eight weeks from now. In Massachusetts, the mayor of Boston just called off all festivals and parades through Labor Day. New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and California, likewise, are a ways off from loosening the reins to the degree needed to hold an NFL camp.
Counting 90 players, the coaching staff, scouts, doctors, trainers, strength staff, cafeteria staff, etc., if you cut away everything else, you may be able to run a camp with 150 people onsite. And the fact is, that’s a number that’s a still a ways off from being allowable in some corners of the country.”
Chicago Bears might have to leave Illinois for camp
This is a problem for the Bears. Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker has made it clear that the state is not going to rush forward with a plan to reopen businesses. Experts have told him that the virus still hasn’t quite peaked yet. It may not do so until the end of May or middle of June. Re-opening too soon runs a massive risk of a second wave of the virus flaring up.
With camp scheduled to begin in July, this means the team might not be able to conduct practices or meetings like normal due to restrictions. They could end up moving to a state with a more lax policy. There’s no telling where that could end up being. One thing is certain. If the Bears do move, it will make things far more difficult for fans to attend practices as they’ve done for many years.