The Chicago Bears kick off the 2022-23 NFL regular season with a home game on Sunday, Sept. 11 (Noon CDT) at Soldier Field against the San Francisco 49ers.
Not only can you be there to see the Bears start their 103rd season, but you can also place a long list of bets via one of seven Illinois sportsbooks.
For now, it’s the start of a new era in Chicago.
Fans eager to see new-look Bears
Last year, after the Bears lost eight of their last nine games and finished 6-11, the team fired both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy.
In the offseason, Chicago hired former Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles as its new GM. Poles hired former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as the Bears’ head coach.
Meanwhile, the Niners were this close to making last year’s Super Bowl. They led by double digits at one point in the NFC Championship game before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 20-17.
As for recent tilts between San Francisco and Chicago, the teams played each other last year in the Windy City.
On Halloween, the 49ers defeated the Bears 33-22 in Chicago. Prior to that, the teams last met in 2018, with Chicago winning 14-9 in San Francisco. All-time, San Francisco leads the series with the Bears with a 35-32-1 record.
For another lucky enough to grab tickets to this year’s rematch (or any Bears’ home game this season), here are some essential tips to help maximize your game-day experience:
The lowdown on Bears tickets
The average ticket price to a Chicago Bears home game in 2022 is $477.55, according to The Sporting News. That makes Bears’ home games the 10th most expensive of the NFL’s 32 teams. That list is topped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($757.26), Dallas Cowboys ($690.14), Las Vegas Raiders ($674.57) and New England Patriots ($643.27).
Season ticket packages to Chicago games went up 6% in 2022. That is due, mostly, to the fact the Bears will have an additional ninth home regular game this year as part of the NFL moving to a 17-game season.
Stubhub and NFL Ticket Exchange by Ticketmaster — are two of the best options for resale tickets. They will come in well below Ticketmaster’s face value prices. For the home opener, the latter option is currently showing tickets in the third level endzone sections starting at $199 running up to just under $1,000 for a single Club Seat near the 50-yard line with access to the exclusive United Club lounge (and other ammenities).
Note that Soldier Field uses mobile tickets only now. PlayIllinois insider and long-time Bears’ season ticket holder Jeff Figurelli told us:
“I hate mobile tickets. I miss the regular tickets. It’s a pain in the butt after buying a burger and a beer to have to pull out your phone to prove to security where you sit. That being said, I always move my ticket from the app to my iPhone wallet to reduce the time it takes to access your ticket.”
Home games at Soldier Field in 2022-23
Pro fan tips for attending games
Figurelli and fellow Bears season ticket holder Julie Boskey share the following tips from attending games at Soldier Field for more than two decades. Figurelli said he always drives to the games. Boskey said she never does. Both said the key is going early.
One way to add to the excitement is to check out the Bears odds and placing a bet before you leave for the game.
Here’s a comprehensive parking and transportation guide is available on the Chicago Bears website.
Getting there — Driving
Map of surrounding streets and freeways to soldier field:
Figurelli said the best tailgating spots are the South Lot or Waldron Deck.
“For the past seven years I have not tailgated on a regular basis. I normally go to a bar in the South Loop to pregame,” Figurelli said. “The Weather Mark Tavern at Michigan and 15th is my favorite spot because they will let you in as early as 8:30 a.m. for noon games and you can valet park there for the entire game. They start serving alcohol at 9 a.m. and it is about a 15 minute walk to the stadium from there. They also have a great breakfast menu.
“Flo & Santos (13th and Wabash) has the best food but no parking.”
Getting there — Transit
Boskey said she takes the Metra commuter train to Soldier Field.
The Metra Electric line has a stop a few blocks from Soldier Field. The “Bears Special” train arrives about an hour before kickoff, “which is plenty of time to walk over to the stadium,” she said. “Then there is a train that leaves that station about 30 minutes after the game is over, which is very convenient, especially since train service on Sundays is generally very limited. This train line goes through the southern part of Chicago and into the South suburbs, so it is convenient for people who live there, but probably not practical for people who live north or west.”
Best and worst of Soldier Field
Figurelli said two of the best parts about Soldier Field is the pre-game and in-game entertainment and the fact the Bears make the games family friendly.
“They do a great job with music, montages, on field entertainment, and past player interviews,” he said. “They have two decent jumbotrons and they have improved Internet strength so you can get fantasy football updates.”
Figurelli has three kids under the age of 8 and said they still have minimal interest in the game itself. “They do have a lot of fun with all of the kids activities the Bears have both outside the stadium before the game and inside the stadium tunnels during the game.”
He said the worst part is leaving the stadium.
“For whatever reason, all the exits are the size of regular doorways so there is always a traffic jam of people fighting to leave. God forbid there is ever a fire in that place. In a perfect world, I sit in my seat for an extra 20 minutes after the game and then leave after the rush is kinda over. I don’t understand why they don’t have larger doorways for mass exiting.”
Don’t forget your card, concessions are now cashless
It’s important to know that all Soldier Field concessions and retail transactions are now cashless. So, remember to bring your credit or bank card.
Figurelli rates the concessions as “average.” He also said to be prepared for high prices.
As for what’s good, he said he’s enjoyed the polish sausages and Buona Beef’s Italian beef sandwiches in the past. The latter can be found near sections 144 and 110.
“There is a vendor called DMK Burger Bar (in section 126) which has fantastic burgers. But again, very expensive and there is always a long line so make sure you give yourself enough time. They also serve nicer beers with the burgers,” Figurelli said.
Boskey agreed that concessions are average. So much so that she said, “Nothing really stands out as something I would have to get to eat. I can’t really even remember what I would get there. Now, if you were talking about a White Sox game, that is a different story. I usually just get whatever has the shortest line.
“There are sometimes food trucks out on the patio on the north side of the stadium which offer some different options. We tend to get food and drinks before the game because we have a long climb up the stairs so we try to limit the amount of times we go up and down.”
Bathroom wait times are average, as well
Figurelli said the bathroom wait times are average, as well, “assuming you go at the right time. You cannot wait until the end of the drive to go. Always go to the washroom during the 3rd down play.”
Boskey said it’s a little better for women.
“Being a female helps a lot because there aren’t as many women at games. There are actually two sets of washrooms next to each other in the area where I sit, so I usually skip the first set and walk down to the next. But I agree with Jeff, timing is helpful there. Don’t try to go to the bathroom or get food during halftime, it’s always super busy then.”