Packers Fan Cannot Force Bears to let him wear Green Bay Gear, For Now

On December 13, 2018, Russell Beckman, a longtime Green Bay Packers fan and a Chicago Bears season ticket holder, asked U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall to enjoin a Chicago Bears, and Soldier Field, policy prohibiting participants in a pregame Bears Season Ticket Holder Experience from wearing non-Bears apparel on the sidelines. Beckman continues to claim that the Bears-gear-only policy violates Beckman’s right to free speech.

As we have previously covered, Beckman, representing himself, sued the NFL and the Chicago Bears after he was not allowed entry to a Bears Season Ticket Holder Experience event at Soldier Field because he was wearing Green Bay Packers attire. Beckman is a season ticket holder for both the Packers and the Bears, but only attended Bears games at Soldier Field when they played the Packers. In 2016, after purchasing a sideline pass for the Packers vs. Bears game in Chicago, Beckman was denied access to the field due to his elaborate Packers game day outfit. The Bears notified fans of the new policy but Beckman decided to wear his gear anyway.

Beckman was hoping to enjoin the policy before the Bears v. Packers game on December 16, 2018, at Soldier Field; however, Judge Gottschall has since denied Beckman’s request. According to Judge Gottschall, Beckman has only made a “fairly modest” showing that he is likely to succeed in demonstrating that the Bears are a state actor, a requirement in order to have First Amendment standing. Because Beckman has only made a “fairly modest” showing that he is likely to succeed, the court was forced to balance Beckman and the Bear’s interests. The court found that the balance of interests tipped in favor of the Bears because of their economic interest in preserving the fan experience during its pregame warm-up program.

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