Bears didn't plan to be near bottom of NFL in 2011 spending

Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips said the team’s plan wasn’t to be in the bottom five in player spending in the NFL this past season.

Phillips was asked about that ranking with the team announcing Tuesday it will raise ticket prices for 85 percent of the seats at Soldier Field in 2012.

“Player spending, if one year you are a little higher, typically you will be a little lower (the next)," Phillips said. "Last year, the plan was not to be in the bottom quartile of spending. A lot of that, frankly, is we were setting aside some money for Matt Forte, which didn't transpire.”

That money is still set aside for Forte and we’ll see if a deal gets done soon. The Bears will place the franchise tag on the Pro Bowl running back by Monday’s deadline if the sides cannot reach agreement on a deal. That would give the Bears and new general manager Phil Emery until July 15 to hammer out a long-term extension, otherwise Forte would play the season under the tag.

The Bears ranked fifth in the NFL in average ticket price last season, according to Team Marketing Report.

“We typically try to be five, six, seven, right around there," Phillips said. "I am projecting we will be about sixth in the NFL (in 2012).

"What we tried to do was look at how do we remain economically competitive and at the same time be fair to our season ticket holders?"

Soldier Field, which opened after being remodeled in 2003, is the smallest stadium in the NFL.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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