Bears ‘extremely hopeful, confident’ to have fans at Soldier Field for 2020 season

President and CEO Ted Phillips says the team has contingency plans but still is planning to have fans at Soldier Field this season as of now.

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A packed house at Soldier Field for the Bears-Chargers game last season.


As sports leagues work through coronavirus-related issues to resume playing, the Bears are optimistic their season will look somewhat normal at Soldier Field.

President and CEO Ted Phillips said Thursday the organization is planning to have fans in the stadium, though that’s not a certainty and he didn’t give specifics about reducing capacity to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

‘‘We’re still extremely hopeful, confident, that we’re gonna have a season with fans,’’ Phillips said as part of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s virtual meeting. ‘‘It’s only good business practice to look at contingencies, and if we’ve learned anything in the past three months, it’s to expect the unexpected. . . . But we’re still extremely hopeful.’’

Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts were also on the call and acknowledged that mandatory masks might be part of allowing fans back in stadiums. Phillips wasn’t given a chance to comment about that subject.

The NFL hasn’t lost games because the pandemic erupted during its offseason. The NBA and NHL are working to resume their seasons this summer, and MLB is negotiating an Opening Day next month.

That works in the NFL’s favor because it can monitor issues that arise in the other sports. Teams will open training camp late next month, the first preseason game is Aug. 6 and the season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10. Phillips said the league has yet to distribute testing and treatment protocols.

‘‘With football you have more physical contact, so we know there’s going to be some positive tests,’’ he said. ‘‘We know there will be in every sport. . . . When there’s enough testing and there’s quick results, we’ll be able to show the players that they can be kept safe.

‘‘The goal is . . . if someone tests positive, identify them, isolate them, treat them and keep moving on with our game. And I think we’ll be able to do that.’’

Phillips reiterated the NFL plans on holding its season, as scheduled, though there might be a reduction of preseason games. He added that ‘‘flexibility is built in’’ to accommodate any interruption or delay to the regular season.

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