CHICAGO (CBS) — The NFL turned Grant Park into football fantasy land Thursday to kick off the league’s 100th season — as the Chicago Bears prepare to host the Green Bay Packers in the season opener at Soldier Field in the evening.
As CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reported, thousands were expected to crowd into Grant Park on Thursday – and some got a chance to take part in NFL training and activities such as kicking a field goal. Ross tried it himself, and it didn’t go so well.
The free “2019 NFL Kickoff Experience” at Grant Park began at noon. It featured a long list of activities and exhibits.
There were also rows of NFL-inspired statues over which visitors could rest their heads for a pose – allowing them to feel as large and in charge as their favorite NFL players.
Fans took pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy and all 53 Super Bowl rings.
They also lined up to get autographs from Bears legends like Richard Dent, Jim McMahon, Matt Forte, and Charles Tillman.
For those interested in testing their your football expertise, the skills challenge that Ross tried out was set up to show off your punt, pass and kick abilities.
For those who wished to relax and listen to live music, performances were held at the Kickoff Main Stage at Buckingham Fountain. Headliners included Rapsody, Meghan Trainor, and Meek Mill.
“It’s hard to describe the words. You know, you hear about the players, you hear about different things – but there’s nothing like it; nothing in the NFL,” said NFL football fan Ryan O’Hare.
The watch party for the Bears-Packers game begins at 7 p.m. on massive screens set up throughout the park.
If you have tickets for the game, you should know this is the first season the Bears will be accepting only mobile tickets. After some problems with the digital tickets during the preseason, the Bears said they have worked to fix cell service at Soldier Field to make it easier to download your mobile ticket. They’re also encouraging fans to do a little work before they arrive at the game.
“Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, just pull up that ticket in advance. Practice pulling that up, and on either phone you can get to the ticket in one of two way: either through the official Chicago Bears app or just through your mobile web browser,” Bears senior vice president of sales and customer relations Lee Twarling said. “We had the luxury of other teams in town, let alone across the entire entertainment landscape making this change. So a lot of folks weren’t surprised.”
To alleviate any extra congestion at Soldier Field due to the new mobile ticketing system, Twarling said there will be extra staff on hand at ticket booths and gates to sort out any problems. The stadium also has three new WiFi hotspot tents to help fans download tickets.