The Chicago Bears always find ways to pull off some shocking news every offseason. They certainly didn’t disappoint on Thursday when team president Ted Phillips declared via the team’s social media that the organization had put in a bid to purchase Arlington International Racecourse. The 326 acres of land is up for sale and rumors have persisted for some time that Bears ownership would be interested in a potential move there. The idea being to establish a brand-new stadium.
One person who didn’t seem overly pleased by the announcement was Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot. A Bears fan herself, the idea of the team moving out of the city is appalling in her eyes. That was evident from her public statement. One where she called the team’s move nothing more than a “negotiating tactic.” Something they’ve done in the past. If that weren’t enough, she decided to fire a couple of shots at the team on top of it.
They had some heat too.
Among them included the insistence that ownership just focuses on building a winning team and being relevant past October. Then for a little extra pepper, mentioned it would be nice if they beat the Packers for once.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement calling the Bears’ bid on Arlington Park a negotiating tactic and “noise.” pic.twitter.com/dVBjaEC6tq
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) June 17, 2021
Her words carried a ton of venom. The Bears haven’t beaten the Packers since 2018 and have only beaten them once since 2016. They’ve had just one winning season since 2013.
Then again, insulting the organization that brings so much business to the city might not be the best idea. The Bears are already unhappy having to share a stadium with other organizations. A stadium that is the smallest in the NFL at a 61,500-seat capacity. A new building with more seats and state-of-the-art tech would be a gigantic draw and boost their financial profile as it has for many others.
Chicago Bears would need to clear many hurdles
Money is the deciding factor in all of this. Winning the bid for the land is only the first step, which isn’t guaranteed. One must remember the Bears are under lease with Soldier Field until 2033, as Lightfoot pointed out. So they’d need to buy their way out of that. Something she’s confident they won’t do, especially with the NFL likely to step in. Though that idea might be a tad optimistic.
The difficult part would be finding the funds for that new stadium. Chicago Bears ownership can’t be expected to foot the bill by themselves. They’d need help and it is highly unlikely they’d get it from the state of Illinois. So that would mean private backers. While difficult, it is a far from impossible idea. Several NFL stadiums around the country are privately funded. Plenty of businesspeople wouldn’t mind chipping in. Especially given the other options in play for that land including a casino, restaurants, and so on.
Long-term outlooks would see a huge rise in profits.
Lightfoot probably knows that, which is part of why she isn’t happy with the move. Though the lease does give the city leverage, that changes if the Bears submitted the winning bid. At that point, they’d have an escape hatch unless the city acquiesced to more of their demands regarding Soldier Field.