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Bears stop pregame perk; Packers fan’s suit could be dismissed

Russell Beckman

Russell Beckman shows off his passion for the Packers in this photograph attached to his lawsuit against the Chicago Bears. | Federal lawsuit exhibit

The Bears have put a stop to a pregame perk for season-ticket holders that led to a federal lawsuit.

Lifelong Packers fan Russell Beckman sued because the team wouldn’t let him wear his green-and-gold gear on the Soldier Field sidelines for warmups.

According to a Jan. 11 U.S. District Court transcript obtained by the Sun-Times, Bears attorney Paul Greenwalt told the court the team has decided to eliminate the “Pregame On-Field Warm-Up Experience” program, which allowed season-ticket holders to stand on the Soldier Field sidelines as players prepared for the game.

“It is not a change to the program,” Greenwalt said, according to the transcript. “The Bears organization, as they often do, are changing their marketing mix for next year and this program is one of the programs that is being eliminated.”

Greenwalt said that means Beckman’s lawsuit is moot. Beckman filed an amended complaint Wednesday adding the Chicago Park District as a defendant; Soldier Field is a district facility.

A judge has given the Bears until the middle of this month to file for a dismissal. The Bears already tried and failed to get the case tossed last year. But Beckman’s attorney on Wednesday said the team has said it will not move to dismiss the case, so the lawsuit will proceed despite the cancellation of the program.

A Bears spokesperson said the team doesn’t comment on pending legal matters.

Beckman — who lives in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, and has season tickets for both the Packers and the Bears — filed his lawsuit in 2017, alleging that a new dress code prevented him from wearing his Packers attire on the field during the special game-day event.

During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Beckman said he attended similar pregame events at Soldier Field, decked out in his Packers gear, with no problems. He expected to do the same in 2016, but six days before the game, he received an email with a list of rules, including: “No opposing team gear will be allowed.”

After exchanging emails with the Bears, Beckman knew he’d be denied entry if he wore his Packers jersey, but did anyway and, as expected, wasn’t let on the field.

A judge last year denied Beckman’s request for a temporary restraining order and injunction that would have allowed him to wear Packers’ apparel at the pregame events as the lawsuit proceeded.

The Bears launched the “STH Experience,” short for “season ticket holder experience,” in 2014. The program offers season-ticket holders to earn points they cash in to attend various exclusive events.

Associated Press contributed to this report.