CHICAGO - The stage is set for the Bears home opener.
In less than 24 hours, the Bears will be battling it out against the Packers, and Grant Park is ready to kick off the NFL season with a celebration ahead of time.
The historical significance of this event could hardly be bigger: the NFL and the Bears are each starting a new century Thursday. That is why the league chose to kick off the season at Soldier Field, and host a massive party.
"This is our 100th season. So starting our 100th season, the Bears 100th season in the heart of Grant Park, against the Packers, doing a massive free event for fans. This is what we should be doing and this is what it is all about," said Peter O'Reilly, NFL Executive VP of Events.
Music fans, you can catch Meghan Trainor and Meek Mill perform for free before the game, and football fans, well, if you don't go you'll miss seeing treasures shipped in from the NFL Hall of Fame. They've set up at a mini "NFL Museum," where you'll also find the Vince Lombardi trophy in all its glory.
It's all on-hand leading up to the 199th match-up between the Bears and Packers, which Chicagoans are feeling confident about.
"After the disappointing loss they had last year, they've really got a good team built, really excited, got Super Bowl aspirations," said Jason Gumbart. "I think everybody in this city is hoping for a deep playoff run, maybe even a Super Bowl run."
The gates open at 12 p.m. Thursday. The live music starts at 3 p.m., while the watch party starts at 7 p.m.