The den that the Monsters of the Midway call home is now twice the size it was just two years ago. The Chicago Bears have officially opened a 162,000-square-foot expansion of Halas Hall.
The complex up in far north suburban Lake Forest was built in 1997, replacing the original Halas Hall that is now part of Lake Forest College. In addition to the addition, 30,000 square feet of the 90’s building was renovated.
The new HOK-designed building has more drama than a high school musical, with black carpets, brick walls, recessed linear lighting, and a black hallway lined with the illuminated numbers of retired Bears players arranged like markers on a gridiron. The lights come on as the players walk down the hall, accompanied by music, and arrive at a 46-foot video wall. There are about 175 video screens in the Halas Hall expansion. Your man cave weeps.
Everything at Halas is bigger now. The meeting rooms have doubled in size. The draft room is twice as large as it used to be. The coaches’ offices are 50% larger. Their locker room (the coaches and scouts have their own) is now big enough for a sauna and a steam room. A players lounge the size of a Hinsdale McMansion has been added. The players’ locker room is so big that it now has its own barber shop.
If the Bears are testosterone expressed as a team, this building is testosterone expressed through interior decorating. Which may explain why the cafe — now 76% larger — features a “daily live action station.” That live action can be consumed on a new 4,200-square-foot rooftop dining area and herb garden.
Other new parts of Halas Hall that you’ll never see include 20 conference rooms named for former players and current football jargon, a pair of enclosed patios, and 20 phone booths where players can whisper sweet nothings to their agents in private.
All work and no art makes Jack a dull defensive end, so artistic inspiration abounds. From a sculpture representing 100 years of team records by street artist Czr Prz to George Halas’ signature applied to the ceiling in glowing neon.
The Bears weight room features the quote, “Which hurts more, the pain of hard work, or the pain of defeat?” stenciled on the wall. While that sounds very much like something barked at me during the Army Physical Fitness Test, the earliest reference I could find for it on the intarwebs is from 2010, when it was spotted on the walls of the Boston Celtics workout room.