Chicago Sun-Times

Bears, Olivet Nazarene wrangle over ending date for training camp

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Officials at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., are fully aware the Bears have had discussions with Lewis University about relocating training camp.

"If there was a much better opportunity all the way around for the Chicago Bears, we would trust they would be looking out for the best interest of their team and investigating,'' ONU spokesman Gary Griffin said. "We didn't feel that was a slap in the face to Olivet at all.

"My counterpart Brian McCaskey gave us a professional courtesy, gave us a heads up as to the meeting so we were aware of it. We view that as the Bears doing due diligence in taking care of their franchise.''

The Sun-Times reported earlier today that the Bears have a meeting with Lewis University next week. Griffin suggested a meeting between team officials and the school in Romeoville has already taken place. Lewis and the Village of Romeoville first reached out to the Bears. Team spokesman Scott Hagel called the talks "informal and they will remain that way.''

The Bears and ONU are entering the final year of a two-year contract this summer. There is an option year for 2010. Training camp is scheduled to begin July 31. Laws prohibit ONU from doing more than two-year contracts with the football team because the school uses community bonds to help finance some property, Griffin said. When the Bears spent their summers in Platteville, Wis., they signed three-year contracts with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

According to Griffin, at issue currently is the ending date for this summer's camp. The contract permits the Bears to be on campus through Aug. 21. ONU will have 2,500 students moving in on the next day for the school year. Griffin said the school has asked the Bears to leave a day earlier on Aug. 20. Camp is starting later because kickoff Sunday for the NFL season is not until Sept. 13. The NFL mandates that the season not start until the week after Labor Day, and Labor Day is Sept. 7 this year. Consequently, the Bears are opening camp a full week later than they did last summer.

"There is no controversy here,'' Griffin said. "There is a logistical problem. Both sides are trying to find a solution.''

Hagel agreed that the sides are currently working on the scheduling issue.

"We want to be there for the option year in 2010 as well," Hagel said. "That's certainly our preference and is our goal."

Hagel said he was not aware of any other schools the Bears have had discussions with about a new summer home.

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The Bears held training camp at Lewis from 1947-50.

I'd love to see it at Lewis, that's way closer for almost ever Bear fan that goes to camp too. Do it Bears.

I get a little upset when people say this will bring the Bears closer to the fans. What about all the fans South of Cook county? Having the Bears in Bourbonnais has been a great opportunity for small town fans to feel a part of the franchise they also cheer for. The Bears belong to all of Illinois not just Chicago, doesn't the fight song say "Pride of Illinois", not "Pride of Chicago"?

I think the issue is what is best for the BEARS, probably should be 90 minutes or more away from Chicago so they can focus on football and team 7/24 no family, friends, blah blah

Where's todays Q and A or camp updates Biggsy? Please post!

I would love to see the Bears pay tribute to their Staley roots and move training camp to Millikin University in Decatur. Of course I'm biased as an alumni of MU and a downstate fan who bought season tickets for the year they played in Champaign Urbana.

Jimmmy... that made no sense at all. Most of the player's relatives are no where near Chicago. Bring the Bears to Lewis!

As long as my family and I can keep going to training camp and watching our beloved Bears, it doesn't matter much where the camp is held. As long as it's driving distance. By the way, does anyone know the date for Youth Football Day this year? That is when we like to attend camp with our boys.

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