26 June 2017
Longtime Green Bay Packers fan Russell Beckman filed a putative class action against the Chicago Bears in Illinois federal court on Friday, June 16, 2017. Beckman is accusing the team of violating fans’ right to free speech by not allowing fans to wear clothing or gear that supports opposing teams when the fan attends any on-field event.
Beckman has owned a personal seat license at Soldier Field since 2003 but more often than not, only attends Bears games at Soldier Field when they play the Packers. The Bears allow season ticket holders to use reward points to purchase game day experiences such as being able to watch pregame warmups from the sidelines.
After purchasing a sideline pass for the Packers vs. Bears game in 2016, Beckman was denied access to the field due to his elaborate Packers game day outfit that included face paint and a Packers jersey. The Bears made fans aware of the new policy by email prior to the 2016 season but Beckman decided to wear his gear regardless. He had allegedly previously been on the field in his Packers gear during both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Bears customer service department reinforced the policy after numerous phone conversations with Beckman. Disgruntled, he wrote an official letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell, but did not receive a response.
Beckman is not suing for financial damages except to recoup any legal fees. He simply would like the Bears to reverse their on-field gear restriction policy and allow him to take part in the various on field experiences at Soldier Field in his Packers fan gear. In the meantime, Beckman plans to wear his Packers gear to the next on field experience in 2017 and see if he will be allowed on the field.