Constable: 'Back to Future' for Bears, Woodfield

  • A smiling John Fox didn't promise to transform last year's losing team into the 1985 Bears, but the Bears' new coach did endear himself to fans during his first news conference on Monday by noting that the Super Bowl trophy won by those 1985 Bears "is kind of lonely."

      A smiling John Fox didn't promise to transform last year's losing team into the 1985 Bears, but the Bears' new coach did endear himself to fans during his first news conference on Monday by noting that the Super Bowl trophy won by those 1985 Bears "is kind of lonely." John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • For three decades, Bears fans have been longing for a leader who can coach the team to a Super Bowl championship the way Mike Ditka did with those 1985 Bears. New Coach John Fox seems like the best option, even if he did admit, "I'm not smart."

      For three decades, Bears fans have been longing for a leader who can coach the team to a Super Bowl championship the way Mike Ditka did with those 1985 Bears. New Coach John Fox seems like the best option, even if he did admit, "I'm not smart." John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • This file photo taken inside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg might be a collector's item soon. Woodfield is scheduled to announce a $13.9 million remodeling plan today.

      This file photo taken inside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg might be a collector's item soon. Woodfield is scheduled to announce a $13.9 million remodeling plan today. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Opened in 1971 and taking the second half of its name from Marshall Field, Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg is set to embark on a $13.9 million renovation.

      Opened in 1971 and taking the second half of its name from Marshall Field, Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg is set to embark on a $13.9 million renovation. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/20/2015 6:03 AM

In January of 1985, suburbanites could take pride in two local institutions that were at the top of their fields and moving toward even brighter futures. The Chicago Bears, stinging from a 23-0 playoff loss to the mighty San Francisco 49ers, were poised to win the next Super Bowl with the best, youngest and most colorful team in the National Football League. Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall, having been stripped of its title as World's Largest Shopping Mall, was adding a couple of movie screens to enhance its reputation as the economic epicenter of the suburbs.

Plenty of people made special trips to Woodfield Mall in 1985 just to buy Chicago Bears sweatshirts or watch that new "Back to the Future" movie.

 

Thirty years later, the Bears and Woodfield both see themselves growing stale and are set to show off new rounds of renovations.

Kicking off its rebuilding project Monday, the Bears introduced veteran NFL coach John Fox as the man chosen to inject energy and a new winning tradition into those tired old Bears. Noting the "storied" franchise's history, Fox mentioned legendary Bears such as George Halas and Mike Ditka even as he talked about moving on from the past.

"I came here in 1985. I was a college coach, and Mike Ditka was the head coach," Fox said "I saw what the Bears were about, and I'm really excited and honored and proud to be standing here."

Woodfield takes center stage today with its own press event to announce details of a $13.9 million renovation. That's a million bucks or so less than disappointing quarterback Jay Cutler will be owed by the Bears next year, but it's still the kind of money that can improve a shopping mall in need of an update.

Woodfield Mall General Manager David Gott might recall legendary retailers such as former Sears Chairman Robert E. Wood and Marshall Field, the men whose names were bestowed upon the mall in 1971.

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But you can be confident the talk will focus on Woodfield's future.

Sports critics will point out that Fox couldn't win a Super Bowl, even with Peyton Manning as quarterback. Bleacherreport.com immediately posted a story headlined, "John Fox Hire Puts Chicago Bears Back on Track to Perennial Mediocrity." Sports radio talk shows already have archived Fox's "I'm not smart" sound bites for future use.

The biggest critic of all things suburban doesn't have any confidence in a new-and-improved Woodfield.

"I would state pretty categorically that there is little hope for the 'burbs," reads an email from author James Howard Kunstler in response to his thoughts on Woodfield and the suburbs. His "The Geography of Nowhere," published in 1993, savaged the suburbs' "immersive ugliness," and then it got mean. In our email exchange this weekend, Kunstler says he sees "an acceleration of problems in the 'burbs," tied to the crash of crude oil prices and expected price increases later.

In a TED talk in 2004, Kunstler calls suburbia "the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world." He envisions American soldiers pondering home as they die on far-flung battlefields.

"What is their last thought of home? I hope it's not the curb cut between the Chucky Cheese and the Target store," Kunstler says. "The salient problem about this for us is that these are places not worth caring about."

Woodfield's new look aims to rekindle the energy and enthusiasm of mallgoers back in 1985. One new mall option that should help complete that connection is the soon-to-be-opening Level 257, a Pac-Man-themed restaurant and entertainment center next to Sears.

Pac-Man sounds right. If we expect the Chicago Bears and Woodfield Mall to replicate a little of their 1985 successes, we might as well be accompanied by the greatest video game of that era.

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