Welcome back to another season of Chicago Bears football at Soldier Field.

The Bears have called the stadium home since 1971, but we don’t know how long the team will be playing by Lake Michigan (more on that here).

Here’s what to know if you’re going to a Bears home game in 2023.

The season opener is against the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers. The first Bears-Packers game after the Aaron Rodgers era will be Sept. 10 at Soldier Field. Fans are expected to get their first good look at the Packers under new quarterback Jordan Love.

The season finale? Also against the Packers. Sandwiched in between are 15 games that will determine the direction and momentum of the team’s resurgence effort. The Bears will play a pair of Thursday night games for the first time — in Weeks 5 and 10 — and have four prime-time games in all.

Sorry, no trip to Germany this season, Bears fans.

Mobile tickets, like this one that was scanned on Aug. 8, 2019 before a game between the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers, are required at Soldier Field this season.

Only mobile tickets will get you into Soldier Field. Purchasers can manage their tickets on their mobile device or online, including the ability to share tickets or post tickets for resale. Here’s how to do that.

We recommend adding your ticket to your phone’s digital wallet before heading out in case of weak signals or slow Wi-Fi on site. Screenshots of tickets are not valid for entry.

If you’re new to Soldier Field, here’s a seating chart — and how the field looks from that view.

Game times could shift starting in Week 5, thanks for flexible scheduling by the NFL (and for TV reasons). So check those tickets closer to game day.

Fans make their way into the Chicago Bears Family Fest area outside of Soldier Field as the gates officially open on Aug. 3, 2021.

Gates open two hours before kickoff (so that’s 10 a.m. for noon starts or 1:25 p.m. for 3:25 p.m. starts). With increased screening and metal detectors at all games, arriving early is strongly encouraged.

Jorge Vega, of Chicago's Portage Park neighborhood, holds clear plastic bags up as he goes through security measures while entering Soldier Field for a Bears preseason game against the Chargers in 2013.

One bag per person is allowed, but that bag must be clear plastic, vinyl or PVC not exceed 12x6x12 inches. If you don’t have a bag that fits that requirement, a one-gallon resealable clear freezer bag or clutch purse no larger than 4×6 inches is acceptable. Medical bags are allowed as well.

Leave these items at home

  • Weapons/firearms
  • Aerosol cans (mace, pepper spray, hair spray, etc.)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Balloons and beach balls
  • Cameras with lenses that exceed 6 inches when fully extended
  • Cans, bottles or other beverage containers (including sealed plastic water bottles)
  • Clothing or signage with offensive or vulgar language or that blocks fans’ view
  • Confetti
  • Coolers (unless medically necessary) and ice chests (including soft-sided)
  • Fireworks or smoke bombs
  • Illegal drugs
  • Laser pens and pointers
  • Noise-making devices (horns, whistles, etc.)
  • Poles of any kind, including selfie-sticks
  • Seat cushions with zippered covers, pockets or flaps
  • Strollers
  • Umbrellas
  • Video or movie cameras
  • Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vaping, using smokeless or e-cigarettes and chewing smokeless tobacco are also prohibited
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones)

Everything inside Soldier Field is cash-free. So that means credit, debit, prepaid card or mobile payment for concessions, retail gear and roving food and beverage vendors. Fans can transfer cash to a Visa prepaid card for no fee at the ticket office window at Gate 8, Gate 0 pro shop, the “Water Wall” pro shop and the pro shop in the Club 100 Level.

Here’s the new food and drink options at Soldier Field, including FrankenWurst, miniature pizza cup with fall vegetables and the SackAttack Burger.

Fans walk toward Soldier Field before the Chicago Bears play the Houston Texans on Sept. 25, 2022.

Soldier Field is located at 1410 Special Olympics Drive in Chicago.

Chicago Transit Authority

Check out transitchicago.com for fare information, route schedules and maps.

  • By bus: Use 128 Soldier Field Express or 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express. The Soldier Field Express operates for every Bears home game this season (view Bears schedule here) and has buses that leave Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station starting about 2 1/2 hours before game time until 30 minutes after kickoff and resume for an hour after the game on a load-and-go basis. Each route stops in front of the stadium.
  • By “L” train: Take the Red, Green or Orange lines to Roosevelt Station, which is less than a mile (15-minute walk) to the stadium entrance. Don’t want to walk? Take the 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express from Roosevelt Station to the stadium (drop-off and pickup at the corner of McFetridge and Special Olympics drives).

Metra

Six Metra lines connect to Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center:

Metra offers two weekend-pass options. Unlimited rides on Saturday or Sunday are $7. Up to three children age 11 and under can ride free with each fare-paying adult. A weekend pass includes unlimited rides for $10, available only in the Ventra app.

For weeknight games, there are two all-day pass options available only in the Ventra app. The $10 day pass allows unlimited rides across the entire Metra system while the $6 day pass allows unlimited rides within three fare zones. Fares may be purchased in advance.

Check metra.com for route schedules and maps.

  • From Ogilvie Transportation Center (southbound on Clinton Street at Madison Street) and Union Station (bus stop on Jackson Street east of Canal Street): Take the nonstop 128 Soldier Field Express to the stadium. The round-trip bus fare is $5 for adults or $2.50 for seniors and children ages 7-11. The express service is available starting about 2 1/2 hours before game time until 30 minutes after kickoff and resumes for an hour after the game on a load-and-go basis.
  • South Shore Line: Metra Electric Line tracks run from South Bend, Ind., to downtown Chicago. Select trains will stop at Metra’s 18th Street Station, which connects passengers directly to the stadium’s entrance via a pedestrian walkway. As 18th Street Station is not a regularly scheduled stop, passengers utilizing it on these days should purchase tickets for Museum Campus/11th Street.
  • Metra Electric Line: Extra service provided during Bears home games with trains stopping at the 18th Street Station and the Museum Campus/11st Street Station, which is near Soldier Field.

Pace

A limited number of Pace buses will be available at each boarding location — on Routes 236, 768, 769 and 776 — for transportation to Soldier Field during Saturday and Sunday home games only during the regular season. All riders will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Buses begin boarding up to 30 minutes before departure. Cost is $4.50 each way. Check pacebus.com for the latest information.

By bike or personal scooter

  • Pregame drop-off: Locations are the 18th Street turnaround just west of Lake Shore Drive and Balbo Drive at Columbus Drive
  • Postgame pickup: Balbo Drive at Columbus Drive
A 1989 ambulance owned by Ken McCraken sits parked outside Soldier Field before the Chicago Bears game against the Steelers on Sept. 24, 2017.

It varies. See complete details here.

At the stadium

  • All parking areas surrounding the stadium require a prepaid parking pass, which will be sent to fans electronically after purchase. Fans can either print their pass and display it on the rearview mirror of their vehicle or have it scanned from the Bears app.
  • These lots open four hours before kickoff and close two hours after the game.

Off-site parking

  • Some off-site lots — including Museum Campus, Millennium Garages and McCormick Place Lots B, C and D — allow fans to purchase passes in advance.

Lots that accept cash for drive-up parking on game day

  • Grant Park South (entrance is on Michigan Avenue between Jackson Boulevard and Van Buren Street): Regular daily posted rate if not purchased in advance. No tailgating allowed. No shuttle service. Cost: $25.
  • McCormick Place Lakeside Garage Lot C (entrance on Fort Dearborn Drive): No tailgating allowed. No shuttle service. Cost: $45.
  • Millennium Garages (entrance is located off Columbus Drive between Monroe Street and Randolph Street): No tailgating. No shuttle service. Game-day, drive-up and advance, prepaid parking are available. Cost: Varies.
  • Burnham Harbor Lot (entrance located on Waldron and Special Olympics drives): Available beginning in November after boating season. Tailgating allowed. Cost: $75.

Lots with shuttle service to Soldier Field

  • 31st Street McCormick Place Lot B (3050 S. Moe Drive): Shuttle operates two hours before kickoff to two hours after the end of the game, with limited return service available during the game. Tailgating allowed. Cost: $50-55.
  • Millennium Park Garage (entrance is located off Columbus Drive between Monroe and Randolph streets): Free shuttle departs from lower Randolph Street and arrives at 18th Street. Service begins three hours before kickoff and ends two hours after the end of the game. No tailgating. Game-day, drive-up and advance, prepaid parking are available. Cost: $40.

Alcohol-free, family-friendly lots

Residential areas

  • No parking is allowed within this area surrounding Soldier Field during Bears home games. Violators could be ticketed and towed.

Phil Weeks grills burgers and sausages while tailgating with friends before a game between the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders at Soldier Field on Oct. 13, 2022.

If you go to a Bears game but don’t tailgate, did it really happen?

Fans can tailgate on all surface lots of the Museum Campus, the upper level of the Waldron Deck and the Southwest Parking Facilities (McCormick Place 31st St. Lot B, D and E only) — but keep the setup to your parking spot. Tailgating during the games or after night games and consuming alcohol in the “Family Friendly” No Alcohol lots are prohibited.

Keep it simple, says a Bears die-hard tailgater.

“By the time I get in and set up and get everything rolling, it’s time to get in for the game,” said Ken Michalski, who has faithfully tailgated at Chicago Bears games for 38 years and was inducted into the Tailgating Hall of Fame in 2021. “It’s very limited on time.”

Pre-cook food in foil pans that can be heated up quickly on the grill, or stick to simple entrees such as hot dogs and hamburgers. Michalski also recommends streamlining what you bring, so breakdown is easier before you head into the game.

Everyone knows the old-guard options of how to fill that cooler: Bud Light, Miller Lite, Modelo and, of course, welcome to the club, White Claw. But a tastier tailgate can be had. Here are 10 recommendations.

Leave these items — or behaviors — at home

  • Advertising banners or displays
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Deep fryers or any oil-based cooking or frying
  • Picketing or political campaigning
  • Tents or canopies of any size
  • Tethered blimps, balloons and other oversized inflatables
  • Fire pits, open fires and open flame heaters
  • Propane tanks larger than 19 pounds
  • Fireworks
  • Setups or games utilizing sidewalks and/or streets

There are spots — both indoors and outdoors — where non-tailgaters can grab some pregame grub (and a few bars too).

A wreath honoring veterans is placed at the American Doughboy monument at Soldier Field in Chicago on Nov. 11, 2020.

Well, first of all, it’s in Chicago — so there’s nice views of the downtown to the north, Lake Michigan to the east and a backed up Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive to the west.

Those entering the stadium from the north can walk into the stadium past the Memorial Water Wall, 250-foot long granite wall adorned with eight medallions and seals to honor each branch of the armed services. There is also a sculpture to celebrate Special Olympics, which started in 1968 at Soldier Field, between the Field Museum and the north end of the stadium.

A doughboy statue to honor World War I servicemen can be found in the courtyard inside Gate 0.

The Chicago Bears unveiled a 12-foot, 3,000-pound bronze statue of Hall of Famer Walter Payton outside Soldier Field on Sept. 3, 2019.

Statues of George Halas and Walter Payton were unveiled outside Soldier Field in 2019. The two 12-foot, 3,000-pound creations are both Gate 0, the entrance on the stadium’s south side.

A walk along the upper southern wall of the old the stadium not only gives a sense of scale to the huge new structure as well as the far smaller old one, but it is adorned with memorials.

Soak it in all, Bears fans. Because a move to the suburbs appears like a foregone conclusion.

After every Bears touchdown at Soldier Field, they play team's fight song,

Among the longest-running traditions in the Bears’ long history is their fight song:

“Bear Down, Chicago Bears”

Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory

Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly

We’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T-formation

Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you’re wearing the crown

You’re the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down

The song, which is played every time the Bears score at Soldier Field, was created in 1941 by composer Al Hoffman, under the pseudonym Jerry Downs. “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” was released the year after the Bears won the 1940 NFL championship by defeating the Redskins 73-0.

Sources: Chicago Bears; Soldier Field; NFL; Tribune research, archives and photos

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