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LAKE FOREST – Like many boys growing up in the Chicago area, George McCaskey’s first opportunity to see the Bears’ training camp arrived when he was 8 years old.
But that is where the similarities ended between McCaskey and other boys his age. McCaskey’s grandfather was George Halas, who founded the Bears in 1920, and his parents were future Bears’ owners Ed and Virginia McCaskey. The team has remained in the family ever since, even as its value soared to $1.1 billion according to a 2009 Forbes report.
George, who has a rural Kingston address in DeKalb County, embraced his family’s legacy even further Wednesday when he was named as the team’s next chairman of the board. George, the eighth of 11 children, will succeed current chairman Michael McCaskey, who announced that he would step down after the 2010 season.
“The whole idea is a sense of ‘we,’ not just one person, that we’re all in this together,” George McCaskey, 54, said after a news conference at Halas Hall. “We’ve got a common goal. Continue George Halas’s legacy, hold on to the Bears as long as possible, and win championships.”
The next eight months will mark a transition period as George McCaskey, the team’s ticket director since 1991, learns on the job alongside his brother, Michael. The duties of the Bears’ chairman include overseeing the team’s board of directors and representing the team at the league level, whether it be for owners' meetings or for voting on possible rule changes.
Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips will continue to oversee day-to-day operations of the team, with general manager Jerry Angelo reporting to Phillips and head coach Lovie Smith reporting to Angelo.
Michael McCaskey said that he felt “some excitement, some sadness” as he announced that he would retire from the team where he has worked for the past 27 years, including the past 11 years as chairman.
“I’m very happy to be able to say that my brother George will succeed me as chairman,” said McCaskey, 66. “He’s a terrific choice. He’s smart and hard working. He has done a great job with the ticket office. He’ll spend this year as a transition year.
“He knows a lot about tickets and interacting with fans. He needs to add to that, and he will, knowledge about the finances of an NFL team, marketing, IT, sponsorships – all of the things that go into running an NFL team today.”
George McCaskey said his experience as ticket director helped him connect with fans. He has owned Bears season tickets since 1981, when he graduated from Arizona State’s law school and went on to serve as an assistant state’s attorney in DeKalb and Lee counties.
“Our parents and our grandfather, they showed us the way,” George McCaskey said. “We’re fans. We’re passionate about the game. We’re passionate about the Bears."