The Bears recently broke ground on a project slated to expand and upgrade their headquarters at Halas Hall. The renovation will enhance the football and business operations while providing new opportunities and experiences for fans visiting the team facility.
The weight room and training room will be expanded from 7,000 to 8,500 square feet and feature new lighting. The locker room will be upgraded with additional and reconfigured lockers and new carpeting. Existing and newly created meeting rooms will feature enhanced technology.
"Upgrading our football facilities will give our players, coaches and personnel staff additional space and new technology to help them prepare during each phase of the football calendar," said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips.
"We will continue to provide our team the resources needed to compete for championships."
A new event center will be built off the south end of the existing building. The state-of-the-art addition will include a 4,000-square foot broadcast studio and conference center that can host as many as 150 people for both events and original programming.
"The new event center provides a unique opportunity to grow our business through a variety of assets on the Halas Hall campus," Phillips said. "We believe this will be an attractive place to entertain guests, build new Bears events and expand our team content offerings across multiple mediums to our loyal fans throughout the year.
"Competition within the sports and entertainment world remains intense and continues to evolve. Our challenge is to find ways to bring partners and fans closer to our product. Creating innovative and one-of-a-kind experiences for our key constituents is vital to our success. The event center will allow us to showcase the Bears in new and improved ways for the foreseeable future."
The two-level entryway to the event center will feature interactive digital displays, video monitors and memorabilia, including some never before featured pieces of Bears history such as the 1963 NFL championship trophy. A new press conference room and a relocated media courtyard will also be a part of the facility along with increased work space for media members.
The Bears will also be adding a practice viewing suite on the second level of Halas Hall. The 40-person suite will overlook the team's practice fields and feature many of the amenities of game suites at Soldier Field.
A new kitchen and dining facility, including an outdoor patio, will be built with the ability to hold up to 100 people. Additional conference room and staff offices will be added throughout Halas Hall, which originally opened in March of 1997.
"The building has served us well for many years," said Bears vice president of business administration John Bostrom. "But we reached the point where we've got to focus on some areas that will improve both the football operations and the business operations of Halas Hall."
The Bears headquarters will also see a new entry into the main lobby and 105 additional parking spaces. The architectural style will be consistent with that of the original building. A main focal point will be the entry point to the main lobby, featuring the classic Bears "C" on an impressive portico. The practice fields and the Walter Payton Center will not be impacted.
The project, which will increase the current 100,000-square foot facility in excess of 30,000 square feet, is scheduled to be completed Aug. 1, before the Bears return from training camp. The architect is Richard Preves and Associates, while the contractor is Mortenson Construction.
"We're on a fast track," Bostrom said. "Together we've got an exciting project that in the end everyone's going to benefit [from]; players, coaches, fans and staff."
Roster move: The Bears on Monday signed cornerback LeQuan Lewis.
The 5-11, 190-pounder appeared in eight games during the 2012 season with the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recording four tackles, one interception and two passes defensed. He also added five kickoff returns for 106 yards (21.2).
Lewis originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent of the Tennessee Titans out of Arizona State in 2011. He has also spent time with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets.