Bank One, the countries sixth largest bank, has had a relationship with the Bears dating back to 1934 when Bears founder George Halas opened an account at the bank. In the early years, the bank advanced the Bears money for player paychecks, with the Bears repaying the loan from that Sunday's gate receipts.
The bank will have their name featured prominently throughout the stadium, on game broadcasts, on certain non-game TV and radio programs, at training camp and at community outreach and other events. "Bears football presented by Bank One" will be a signature phrase for the team.
An erroneous report in a Philadelphia newspaper prompted team President and CEO Ted Phillips to release a statement clarifying the situation.
"The Chicago Bears did not, and will never, sell the rights of our team name," he said. "Our partnership with Bank One does not and will not change how the team is referred to in any fashion locally or nationally. An inaccurate newspaper report misrepresented our arrangement with Bank One. The paper printed a correction of the report and I will further clarify our relationship with Bank One.
"As the Bears presenting sponsor, Bank One will enjoy a presence at Soldier Field, in addition to being the presenting sponsor for the team's community outreach projects and off-season events (Fan Convention, Draft Day Party, etc.). Creating an all-encompassing relationship is what makes the partnership between Bank One and the Bears unique."
Although, it is unique to the NFL similar deals presenting partnerships are common in golf, tennis and college football bowl games.
The Bears are reportedly seeking similar smaller deals in an attempt to boost their profits in the new stadium.