#BearsNation: Bears training camp kicks off Friday in Bourbonnai - KMSP-TV

#BearsNation: Bears training camp kicks off Friday in Bourbonnais

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Bears open up training camp Friday morning and tens of thousands of fans will be descending on Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, in the days ahead, to get an opportunity to see their favorite players up-close.

For fans that are planning to make the trip, there are some important tips to know.

Plan to go early because camp opens at 9:00 AM each morning and runs until 11:30 AM.

“For a 9 o’clock gate open, you will we’ll have people here (at) 6:00, 7:00 in the morning. But it’s great, it’s a festive atmosphere,” said Scott Hagel, the Bears Vice President of Communications.

And the whole experience -- from parking to entering the practice fields -- is free.

“We look at this as an opportunity to reach a lot of our fan base who don't have an opportunity to come to games, and will hopefully have around 100,000 people over the next three weeks come through training,” Hagel said.

For fans venturing out, the main entrance to the campus of Olivet Nazarene University is just off route 45 on University Avenue, known as Honorary Bears Drive this time of year.

For fans who are not too hot on big crowds, plan to come on a weekday.

Around the practice fields are bleacher seats galore and lots of standing room space as well; and of course there’s the fan gauntlet to catch players after practice and get that highly sought after autograph.

“In terms of autographs post practice, our guys do a wonderful job of spending time signing autographs for fans after each practice and obviously when you get 10-15,000 fans, you can't get everybody, but they certainly try to focus on the kids," Hagel added.

There’s also an interactive kids area with blow up slides and moon jumps for when the little fans get restless.

After practice the players usually stay on campus, but some have been known to slip out for dinner. Rumor had Lance Briggs grabbing a bite to eat at the Brick Stone Restaurant and Brewery last year.

“You just never know who might be standing behind you in line whether you're at the local restaurants or maybe one of the local watering holes maybe getting an ice cream cones you never know who might be behind you,” Hagel said.

Fans do need to keep in mind smoking and alcohol are prohibited, as are pets, unless they are service animals. Videotaping is also prohibited.

For those hoping to get autographs, make sure you bring a good sharpie.

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