Illinois' Memorial Stadium
will serve as home to the
Chicago Bears during the
renovation of Soldier Field
Oct. 22, 2001
Champaign, Ill. - The tradition-rich relationship between the University of Illinois and the Chicago Bears comes together again as the Bears have selected the UI Memorial Stadium as the site of home football games during the renovation of Soldier Field.
The Bears and the University have joined in partnership to play all Bears home games in the 2002, including preseason games, as well as the preseason in 2003 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign while Soldier Field in Chicago undergoes a major renovation.
"We are excited about the opportunity to play Bears football in Central Illinois in 2002," said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips. "Our fans have not only made the Bears an important fabric of the City of Chicago, but also an important piece of our great state. We look forward to bringing Bears football closer to many of our fans across Illinois and thank them for the tremendous support they have provided our team since its beginning in 1920."
The UI and Bears have a long-standing tradition dating back to the original Decatur Staleys who were founded by University of Illinois alums George Halas and Dutch Sternaman. The team's colors, Orange and Blue, came from Halas' days as an Illini. And, Illinois' most famous two players, Red Grange and Dick Butkus, earned NFL Hall of Fame status as players for the Bears.
In fact, it was Grange, fresh off an All-America career at Illinois, who is credited with pushing the NFL into the national spotlight with a barnstorming tour with Halas following his last season for the Fighting Illini in 1925.
"There was interest on our part as soon as we heard the Bears might be looking for a place to play their games during the renovation of Soldier Field," said UI Director of Athletics Ron Guenther. "The heritage and tradition we share with the Chicago Bears is a strong link between the two parties, and there are very few opportunities of this magnitude to form partnerships with the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago and the University of Illinois. Also, there will be a significant economic impact on Central Illinois and the opportunity to participate in the National Football League."
The Bears will share the field with the Fighting Illini, coached by former Bears' offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
"We're excited about the increased exposure that having the Bears on our campus will produce," said Turner. "I obviously feel an allegiance with the Bears after four great years in the organization. Some of the greatest names in Fighting Illini football - Grange, Butkus and Halas - also have a prominent place in Bears and NFL history."
Current Bears' season ticket holders will receive preference and upgrade priority at Memorial Stadium and travel packages will be offered, including transportation, hotel, dining options, tents and tailgates. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets should contact the Bears staff now at (847) 615-BEAR, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on-line at chicagobears.com. Season ticket pricing is expected to be available by mid-November and will include a wide-range of options for Bears fans.
University of Illinois - Chicago Bear Connections
Butkus, Dick: The greatest linebacker in the history of the game. Butkus joined the Bears as a first-round draft pick in 1965 after an All-American career at Illinois. Butkus went on to earn All-Pro honors seven times and is a member of the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame. Jersey number 50 retired at Illinois, 51 retired by the Bears. Bears Hall of Fame member.
Caroline, J.C.: Former Illini coach and All-America halfback, played for Bears from 1956-65.
Grabowski, Jim: Illini Radio Network color analyst, and Illinois All-American, played for Bears in 1971.
Grange, Red: Illinois All-American was first major signing by Halas and the fledgling National Football League. Halas took Grange and the Bears on a coast-to-coast barnstorming tour in which the club played 16 games in nine weeks. The tour is generally credited with saving the professional game and putting the NFL on the national sports map. Grange is a charter member of the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame. Jersey number 77 retired at Illinois and by the Bears. Also coached for the Bears for eight seasons from 1933-40. Bears Hall of Fame member.
Halas, George: Chicago Bears founder and long-time coach, earned a B.S. degree at Illinois in 1918 while lettering in football, basketball and baseball. Charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bears Hall of Fame member.
Turner, Ron: Illinois head coach was the offensive coordinator for the Bears from 1993-96 before taking the head job in Champaign. In his four seasons with the Bears, Turner coordinated an offense that improved every season, breaking the club record for passing yards in 1995.
Wallace, Stan: Illinois All-American was a first-round draft pick by the Bears in 1954.
1946 and 1963: The Fighting Illini and Bears both won respective Big Ten (and Rose Bowl) and NFL Championships in the same seasons.
1985: The Chicago Bears spent a week in Champaign-Urbana practicing for Super Bowl XX. The Bears used the Memorial Stadium Bubble to prepare for the New England Patriots, whom the Bears defeated 46-10 in New Orleans.
1994: Illinois opened the 1994 season at Soldier Field with a 10-9 loss to Washington State on Sept. 1. Simeon Rice set an Illini single-game record with five quarterback sacks.
Exhibition Games: Memorial Stadium hosted two Chicago Bear exhibition games in the mid-1970s. On Aug. 3, 1974, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Bears, 10-7, and, on Aug. 23, 1975, the Bears defeated the Cardinals, 14-13.
Memorial Stadium: The University of Illinois Memorial Stadium will be the ninth stadium in which the Bears have played home games following Wrigley Field (330 games), Soldier Field (240 games), Decatur (one game in 1921), DePaul (one game in 1925), Mills (one game in 1930), Loyola (one game in 1931), Chicago Stadium (one game in 1932) and Dyche Stadium at Northwestern (1 game in 1970). The Chicago architecture firm of Holabird & Roche built Memorial Stadium, as well as Soldier Field, also named in honor of those killed in World War I.
Orange & Blue: The Chicago Bears team colors have always been orange and blue, after those of the University of Illinois.
Illini Draft Picks by the Chicago Bears
1946: Julie Rykovich (2nd Round), Frank Bauman (12th), Tom Gallagher (19th) 1947: Dike Eddleman (7th), Jack Pierce (28th). 1951: Chuck Brown (18th) 1952: Tom O'Connell (18th) 1954: Stan Wallace (1st), Ken Miller (14th) 1956: J.C. Caroline (7th) 1961: Bill Brown (2nd) 1962: Ed O'Bradovich (7th) 1965: Dick Butkus (1st) 1975: Revie Sorey (5th), Tom Hicks (6th) 1979: John Sullivan (6th) 1983: Oliver Williams (12th) 1984: Mark Butkus (11th) 1986: David Williams (3rd)
Former Illini on All-Time Bears Roster (46 players)
Atkins, Kelvin, 1983 Boso, Cap, 1987-91 Britton, Earl, 1925 Brown, Bill, 1961 Burdick, Lloyd, 1931-32 Butkus, Dick, 1965-73 Caroline, J.C., 1956-65 Crawford, James "Mush", 1925 Gordon, Lou, 1938 Grabowski, Jim, 1971 Grange, Garland, 1929-31 Grange, Red, 1925, 1929-34 Halas, George, 1920-29 Hicks, Tom, 1976-80 Howard, Dana, 1996 Ingwerson, Burt, 1920-21 Janata, John, 1983 Kassel, Chuck, 1927 Kawal, Ed, 1931-36 Knop, Oscar, 1923-28 Kreitling, Rich, 1964 Larum, Jake, 1920-24 McMillen, Jim, 1924-29 Mullen, Verne, 1923-25 Nelson, Everett, 1929 Norman, Tim, 1983 O'Bradovich, Ed, 1962-71 O'Connell, Tom, 1953 Perez, Peter, 1945 Perrin, Lonnie, 1979 Petty, Ross, 1920 Pinder, Cyril, 1971-72 Podmaersky, Paul, 1944 Richman, Harry, 1929 Ryan, Rocky, 1958 Rykovich, Julie, 1949-51 Shoemake, Hub, 1920-21 Smith, Russell, 1921-23 Sorey, Revie, 1975-82 Sternaman, Ed, 1920-30 Sternaman, Joe, 1922-29 Teafatiller, Guy, 1987 Thomas, Calvin, 1982-87 Wallace, Stan, 1954-57 Walquist, Laurie, 1922-31 Williams, Oliver, 1983
Former Illini - Bear Assistant and Head Coaches
J.C. Caroline Bears player: 1956-65 Illinois asst. coach: 1967-76 Illinois player: 1953-54 Leslie Frazier Bears player: 1981-85 Illinois asst. coach: 1997-98 Red Grange Bears asst. coach: 1933-40 Illinois player: 1923-25 George Halas Bears Head Coach/Owner: 1920-67 Illinois player: 1917 Greg Landry Bears asst. coach: 1986-92 Illinois asst. coach: 1993-94 Perry Moss Bears asst. coach: 1970-73 Illinois player: 1946-47 Ron Turner Bears asst. coach: 1993-96 Illinois Head Coach: 1997-present Laurie Walquist Bears asst. coach: 1933-34 Illinois player: 1918-21