This month I went on a mission to check out Soldier Field and my beloved Chicago Bears football team. More specifically, what was it like to be around the stadium on a game day when no fans were allowed to attend?
Normally, a couple hours before game time, people would be hustling and bustling about, marching into the stadium and anticipating game day festivities. Others would be heading to parking lots for elaborate pregame tailgate gatherings. Concessionaires would be hawking their Bears related goods, food stands would be selling hot dogs and tacos and Chicago police officers would be blowing their whistles, directing the busy traffic in and around the stadium.
Loud, busy, definitely high energy. That’s the normal scene for those eight special Sundays every year when Soldier Field plays host to NFL football.
In 2020 with no fans allowed inside, sadly, this year, all seems quiet on the Soldier Field front.
“Very weird,” said Jose Melger, a Field Museum employee who works Bears games on Sundays. “Totally different than previous years. It is like a ghost town.”
“Surreal” is the way a Monterrey Security guard employed for Bears games described it, pointing to the street separating the Field Museum and Soldier Field.
I was surprised to find the Chicago Bears Pro Shop at the base of the entrance to the stadium was still open. At least there was little “action” going on.
Thalila, a long-time employee at the pro shop, pointed to the doors. “Usually there would be long lines waiting just to get into the store on game day, but as you can see…not today. To say the least, sales are way down,” she said.
Maybe the weirdest thing was walking around the stadium once the game had begun. No roar from the crowd. No “oohs” or “aahs,” no sounds of excitement, no boos, no cheers—only the sound of the P.A. announcer breaking the truly eerie quiet.
The only thing that was strangely similar? The Bears lost the game.