The Chicago Bears remain in full draft preparation mode, according to a statement released by team president Ted Phillips.
Part of that work includes planning for a fan expo on the weekend of the draft that is annually held at Soldier Field.
“We will do our best to create opportunities for Bears fans to ask questions and keep them informed of what is happening with their team and the labor discussions,” Phillips said. “We still plan to host fan events this offseason starting with our “Ultimate Weekend” which includes our Draft Party and Bears Expo at Soldier Field.”
One of the big draws to the fan expo, of course, was the players. The team has scheduled dozens of current players and many former players to appear at the event in the past. Autograph sessions, Q&A panels and intreractive sessions were popular. In the midst of a lockout, the Bears will not be able to have any current players attend. The guess here is former players would also pass on attending out of respect for those who have followed in their path. Hey, maybe they can clone Staley, the team’s mascot, and he can appear around every corner.
“We’re disappointed in the need to take this step, but it is necessary for the long- term health of our league,” Phillips said. “Ultimately we believe an agreement will be reached at the bargaining table. As an individual club, our team focus is on our preparation for the 2011 season and we want Bears fans to know we are going to continue to do everything we can within the League rules to prepare for a championship season. Our immediate focus is on preparing for the draft. We also continue to evaluate our team and will be ready to take advantage of all avenues to improve our team once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
“A deal will get done and we expect to play football in 2011. Our goal remains the same as we prepare to play, bringing a Super Bowl title back to Chicago.”
So, at least the Bears are planning on playing football at some point in 2011. That’s cause for optimism, right?
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune