Bradley-Bourbonnais Area to lose 2.3 million dollars without Bears Training Camp


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From Super Bowl expectations to a ‘balanced’ 8-8 season, Monday morning saw the announcement the Chicago Bears would renege on their 9-year contract with Olivet, we saw the professional football franchise officially retreat into itself.

Like a cold turtle left out on a January morning, the Chicago Bears have been slow-moving these days. The regression of a football franchise from the 2019 to 2020 Season has been seen far beyond what shows up on the football field on Sundays.

In the turn of the day, the optics of the team have went from “Community Impact Partner” to “We don’t’ really give a damn about our touchy, feely, autograph hound fan base,” as a cold face slams the door on fans behind a 100-Million Dollar upgrade at the Halas Hall facilities in Lake Forest. 

Based on previous reports, the Bradley-Bourbonnais Area will more than 2.3 million dollars collectively as a county this Summer without the annual Training Camp.

So who’s to blame?

The Chicago Bears & Ryan Pace

As the decision-makers, it would be foolish not to lump the organization as a whole for being at fault for destroying the fan spectacle that was Training Camp on the grounds of Olivet Nazarene University. The organization of late has done a disrespected its fan base and made fools of the media regularly, as recently its New Year’s Eve press conference, when asked if there would be any coaching changes soon:

“The next four to five months are about hard decisions,” Pace said at the team’s end of year press conference, “the decisions that require a real, honest assessment of our roster and our entire football operations. It’s about identifying problems, getting clarity on the issues and doing whatever it takes to solve them.”

Hours later, four coaches were fired. So apparently it didn’t take that long. Two weeks later, they cut ties with their community partners for two decades. 

Since moving away from firing the data-driven Phil Emery in 2015, but it doesn’t take an analytical mastermind to understand you don’t alienate your fan base like this.

Olivet Nazarene University

It’s no secret Olivet and the Chicago Bears have had a good relationship over nearly 20 years of partnership on the annual training camp. Much of that has come from the tag team of President John C. Bowling and Athletic Director Gary Griffin, who have been regular lines of communication for the team and university.

Bowling announced his retirement back in August from the Presidency of the College that will take effect in May 2021 after 30 years on the job, which may have lead to organizational leadership questions at Halas Hall towards the future of the University.

Village of Bradley

The Village would seem irrelevant in a conversation about Bourbonnais, but not so much. 

Bradley along with other area townships have funded the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau for the past several years, but with the exit of Mayor Bruce Adams, whose last act in office was to fully fund the Tourism Bureau, Mayor Protem Mike Watson and trustees have made it their mission to undermine that decision and rip promised funds away. 

In doing so, the Village of Bradley has taken away time from the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau that could have been better spent working to bring better advertising efforts to the County rather than spending time in court battles.

Meanwhile, the Village has chosen to pursue to actively compete against the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau by purchasing a rundown, structurally in need of help former Carson’s Men’s store for one-million dollars this past that will likely see little draw with the removal of the annual tourist attraction.

When was the last time you let a substitute spend one million dollars and undermined your county as a whole? 

Substitutes are the worst.

There is no substitute for what Kankakee County has lost this week. If anything the above should be viewed as a lesson to organizations of the future that one clog can ruin an amazing thing, and communities work better together. 

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoff
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


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