As we prepare for the Chicago Bears’ season opener against the Green Bay Packers, we are providing fans with a list of 100 interesting facts, records and tidbits to help you get in the football mood.
We’re continuing that list today with 10 facts that we’re nicknaming “There’s No Place Like Home.” Everyone knows the Bears have played football games at Wrigley Field and Soldier Field, but you may be surprised at the variety of places where the Monsters of the Midway have taken the field.
A hidden legacy at the Friendly Confines
When the Staleys moved from Decatur to Chicago in the 1920s, the team moved into Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. The Staleys, then the Bears, played their home games at the stadium until the 1970s, when they moved to Soldier Field along Chicago’s lakefront.
Despite the fact the Bears had been gone for nearly 50 years, an interesting relic was discovered while the Cubs replaced the playing surface at the Friendly Confines in 2007. Workers digging up the field struck cement posts that had been used to anchor the field goal posts at Bears games. The Bears had torn out the field goal posts themselves, but left the cement bases behind, filling them with dirt instead.
What did the Cubs do with the relics? According to project manager Roger Bossard, he was told to throw them away.
When “Bear Weather” became too much to bear
In 1932, frigid temperatures and a series of blizzards left Chicago dealing with weather that was better suited for a dogsled race than a football game. Unfortunately for the Bears, they were forced to play a tiebreaker game against the Portsmouth Spartans in order to determine the NFL champion, so instead of waiting for the weather to improve at Wrigley Field, the game was moved indoors to the Chicago Stadium, home of the Blackhawks.
The game, the first indoor game in NFL history, featured a shortened 80-yard field and no field goals. According to a history of the game, each time the ball crossed the 10-yard line, the ball was moved back 20 yards to allow for the shortened field.
When the game was played, the Bears ultimately won 9-0, scoring all nine points in the fourth quarter. Bronko Nagurski threw a pass to Red Grange for the game’s lone touchdown, and the Bears also registered a safety in the victory.
Renovations at Solider Field force the Bears southward
In 2002, the Bears launched a massive renovation of Soldier Field, forcing the team to move their home games to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, the home of the University of Illinois football team.
The season in Champaign was a disaster, as the Bears lost eight games in a row en route to a 4-12 record.
A landmark in theory, but not in practice
As a result of the Bears’ extensive (and occasionally unpopular) renovations of Soldier Field, the historic stadium was stripped of its status as a national historic landmark after a hearing in 2004, with the official de-listing occurring in 2006.
Soldier Field: the host of more things than just football
Soldier Field has made its name as a host of Bears football games, but the stadium has hosted numerous sporting events and concerts over the years. Notre Dame’s football team used the stadium in 1929, the Chicago Fire used the field as their home stadium until 2005, and the Chicago Cardinals shared the stadium with the Bears in 1959.
The field has hosted numerous special events, including the 2014 Stadium Series game between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, and has hosted World Cup soccer matches and several Gold Cup soccer tournament finals.
One team reigns supreme as the kings of Soldier Field
Only one team in the history of the NFL has an undefeated record at Soldier Field: the Houston Texans, who have won both games they’ve played at the hallowed stadium. One of the games, played in 2004, saw temperatures plunge to just 12 degrees, but it didn’t seem to bother the Texans, as they won 24-5 behind a fourth quarter surge that saw them score 17 unanswered points.
Meanwhile, this team… doesn’t reign
Only one current NFL franchise has failed to win a game at Soldier Field, and that distinction belongs to the Baltimore Ravens, who are 0-3 at Soldier Field since moving to Maryland from Cleveland in the 1990s.
Several other teams have struggled at Soldier Field as well. The Panthers have never won a regular season game on the lakefront, but did win a 2006 playoff game against the Bears. The Chargers won their first game at Soldier Field in 1970 but have lost their last four road games against the Bears. The Steelers are one of the worst teams ever in terms of their Chicago performances, going 1-11 against the Bears at the historic stadium.
South Side Bears: A tale of moderate success
Now you know that the Bears have played games at Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, and even Chicago Stadium in the Windy City, but they also played 14 games at the old Comiskey Park as well.
That park, the former home of the Chicago Cardinals, was a favorable place for the Bears, as the team went 8-6 in their contests there.
Bears Abroad: When Chicago REALLY took its show on the road
The Bears will play in London later this year against the Oakland Raiders, but the team has already played two regular season games outside of the United States. In 2010, the Bears travelled to Toronto to take on the Buffalo Bills and won 22-19, and in 2011, the Bears played the Buccaneers in London, winning that game 24-18.
Just in case you were curious, only one NFL team has avoided playing a game overseas: the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears will play the Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium in early October.
The Bears’ exhibition schedule has been even more exotic
While the Bears have played regular season games in three different countries, they’ve been even more adventurous in their exhibition schedule, playing games in Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, German, and Ireland. The Bears are 2-4 in those games, including a win over the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes in 1961.
For more Bears facts:
Part 1: The Bear Necessities: 10 basic facts about the team, and the players now patrolling Soldier Field.
Part 2: In The Beginning: 10 facts about the team’s founding, original owner George Halas, and the first big star the team was able to sign in the 1920s.