A message to Chicago Bears season ticket holders arrived in my dad’s inbox the other day with a reminder the deadline for renewal and payment is March 22.
In a personalized email to “Mr. Sullivan,” Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren began by thanking him for his support, noting that both Warren and season ticket holders “share the same passion and enthusiasm to bring a Super Bowl victory to the Chicagoland area, as well as a new, world-class fixed roof stadium.”
This was a bit confusing, as my dad had never mentioned his passion for bringing a new, world-class fixed roof stadium and has no faith in the current owners bringing another Super Bowl to the Chicagoland area, much less to Chicago itself.
Anyway, back to the letter. Warren mentioned the “additional proven leadership” from the recent hiring of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and defensive coordinator Eric Washington and name-dropped two “transformational” players who “galvanized our roster,” namely DJ Moore and Montez Sweat.
There was no mention of Justin Fields, who plays the only position that matters to my dad, who has held season tickets since Jack Concannon was the starting quarterback. He has seen a lot of Bears quarterbacks and is still waiting for one besides Jim McMahon he thinks can throw a football accurately.
Warren probably was trying to avoid the only topic of conversation allowable on Chicago sports talk radio — “Keep Justin Fields or draft Caleb Williams?” — and didn’t want anyone reading anything into his carefully chosen words. Understandable. This long-running drama should play out until the first day of the NFL draft on April 25 — a month after the ticket renewals are due.
Why say anything nice about Fields if he’s potentially losing his job?
Quarterback situation aside, the Bears future was exciting to ponder, Warren informed season ticket holders, “with strong draft capital (including two top-10 picks), and a healthy salary cap situation.” This suggested to my dad the Bears were planning to “out-Lion” the Lions, an alien concept for sure, but one that sounds good after Detroit’s sudden success with the right draft picks, signings, acquisitions and coaches.
“We can be Detroit,” he said for the first time in his life.
It wasn’t until the ninth paragraph of the letter that Warren finally got to the point: After months of evaluating season ticket prices and “the market considerations that factor into our business decisions,” the Bears decided ticket prices would rise by 8%. This was done, Warren said, after “careful thought and analysis.”
That seemed like a significant jump for a 7-10 team that finished at the bottom of the NFC North and doesn’t know who will be its starting quarterback in 2024. But Warren explained there would be “improvements in the game day experience,” following what he said were improvements made last season with food and beverages and getting into the stadium.
“We will be addressing the holistic fan experience this offseason as we evaluate our retail and concession operators,” he added.
Holistic? Does that mean better food options? Concession lines that don’t accidentally merge with the bathroom line and cause gridlock in the concourse? Actual lids for a pop?
Count us in.
Warren ended his message to the paying customers by revealing the organization was “making progress on our stadium development plan” and they’d be sure to let us know when their “deliberate and intentional process” leads to a new site.
Hmm. The Bears stadium saga already has lasted longer than the Matt Nagy era. The White Sox released their renderings of a proposed South Loop stadium Wednesday, only three weeks after leaking the news of talks with a developer for “the 78.” Perhaps the Sox can loan the Bears their new stadium adviser to teach them the preferred Chicago way of securing fan support and public funding: Whet their appetite, gain approval, then present them with the bill.
Stadium and quarterback situations aside, the Bears were headed upward, Warren assured us, and it was thanks to season ticket holders like my dad.
“We will build a World Championship team together,” he wrote.
There was no mention of any members of the McCaskeys, the family who owns the Bears, an omission we found curious.
We still have the “thank you” letter sent to “Dear Season Ticket Subscriber” on Feb. 25, 1994, when President Michael McCaskey wrote about the “new era with Dave Wannstedt and his coaching staff; many exciting victories lie ahead.” Thirty years later, it’s a new era with the same owners and overoptimistic sales pitch.
Warren has made corporate letter-writing an art form, and by the end of it we were galvanized to renew.
“Bear Down!” he wrote in conclusion.
Kevin, you had us at “strong draft capital.” The check is in the mail.
As for the invitation to help you and general manager Ryan Poles build the team, my dad has plenty of suggestions. After watching another Bears-free Super Bowl in his comfy chair Sunday, he’ll be sending you an email with some “careful thought and analysis” on the Bears coaching and play-calling, what to do with the No. 1 pick and how to make the bathroom lines move faster at Soldier Field.
Take your time before getting back to him.
You have until April 24.