Free tickets for the Chicago Bears practice next week at Prospect High School went quickly Friday morning, garnering an "overwhelming response" on the team's website, officials said.
Tickets at chicagobears.com were gone soon after they became available at 11 a.m. Some 6,000 tickets were distributed by the Bears for the 6 p.m. practice next Thursday at Prospect's George Gattas Memorial Stadium, but that also includes tickets provided to Northwest Suburban High School District 214 for students and staff.
The football stadium has a seating capacity of 4,900, so the school is bringing in portable bleachers to accommodate the extra fans.
Last year, when the Bears held a practice at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, tickets on the Bears' website were also gone in less than an hour.
Following last year's popular event, the Bears considered as many as four different schools in the suburbs to hold this year's on-the-road practice. In June, eight of the team's front office staff visited Prospect to check on the quality of the field turf, and examine site logistics, according to Frank Mirandola, Prospect's assistant principal of student activities.
Formally called the 2017 Papa John's Varsity Bears High School Takeover, the event is a spin on the high school "Friday Night Lights" tradition. And to that end, team officials are hoping for a large student presence at the practice, Mirandola said.
Prospect will host a students-only tailgate party when school gets out at 3:10 p.m., and those who attend the practice will be encouraged to sit in a special student section in the stadium.
Varsity football teams from across the school district have also been invited to watch the practice from the nearby track.
"It's a field full of professional athletes who are great at their craft," Mirandola said. "It's great to showcase Prospect High School and District 214 by the Bears coming to Mount Prospect."
Officials encourage fans to get to Prospect early, as parking lots will open at 3:30 p.m. and gates at 4 p.m. Tailgating won't be allowed, but the school's boosters club will be selling concessions inside the stadium.
Parking will also be available at the Mount Prospect village parking garage, 50 S. Emerson St., and Randhurst Village parking garage, 1 Randhurst Village Drive. Shuttles will run from 3:30 to 9 p.m.
Before the scheduled 6 p.m. practice, the Prospect marching band and dance and cheer teams will entertain the crowd.
Mascot Staley Da Bear will make an appearance and the team's Drumline will also perform.
After the practice around 7:45 p.m., players are expected to stick around for a brief autograph session.