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Bears submit bid to buy Arlington Park

Thursday, Jun 17, 2021

* Whoa…

* NBC 5

The Bears renovated Soldier Field in 2002, and are locked into a lease at the historic stadium through at least 2033, according to officials.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the situation Thursday, acknowledging that while the lakefront site is “challenging,” the team is locked into a lease, and she is confident that the NFL won’t let the team break it.

“A couple of data points that I think you should be aware of are the Bears have a lease with Soldier Field until 2033, and the NFL doesn’t let any teams break their leases,” she said. “I was just on a call with senior leadership in the last two weeks. So there are things that they’d like to see differently at Soldier Field, and we want to do whatever we can to accommodate it. It’s a great iconic site, but it’s a challenging site.”

* Sun-Times

The Bears have played at Soldier Field since 1971 and have a lease running through 2033. The organization doesn’t consider that lease to be a barrier, a source said, because it could negotiate a buyout and construction on a new facility would take years anyway.

Recently built NFL stadiums have been extravagant in design and enormous in price. The newly opened stadiums in Los Angeles and Las Vegas cost $5 billion-$6 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively. The others in the last seven years are for the Falcons ($1.6 billion), Vikings ($1.1 billion) and 49ers ($1.3 billion).

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:29 pm:

    Please let us not subsidize the Bears in any way. If they want to move to the suburbs, do it on their own dime. No EDGE. No TIF. No special tax credit. No public bonds to finance construction. No nothing.

  2. - Healy05 - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:32 pm:

    To be honest there is a lot to like about this idea. The Bears are, at this point, likely a restrictor on that neighborhood rather than an asset. The greater Loop/South Loop area is one of the top 5 high growth neighborhoods in the entire country. Right now, there are a ton of parking lots, marginal bars and other underutilized parcels that would turn over very quickly if the Bears left.

    Fiscally, the stadium renovations from 2003 are just about paid off, and the Bears are on the hook to cover them until maturity in 2032. Once they’re gone, you can more than cover the cost of maintaining Soldier Field with concerts, fests, random soccer, football, crossfit, etc. stuff. Besides, the additions to the property tax rolls from new development would more than offset any incremental revenue loss.

    Also would create a WAY better fan experience for the Bears. Bigger stadium/more capacity, less traffic nightmare on gameday. You could really create a regional commerical core in Arlington Heights too that would enhance the economy of the northern and Western burbs. Between O’Hare, Rosemont and Bearstown you’ve got some true heft there as a center of regional and super-regional (e.g., the Midwest) gravity.

    Not sure the size of the Arlington Racetrack land but imagine you could Foxboro it and bundle in condos, a special gameday sales tax, etc. For $60/mm year you can do the entire thing via low interest bonds

    It’s a winner, they should all do it.

  3. - The Doc - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:32 pm:

    ==Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the situation Thursday==

    Words that should make Chicagoans who want to retain the Bears at Soldier Field shudder :)

  4. - AD - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    Love it. Add a Casino, Hotels, Shopping. Make it an all weekend experience with everything close to each other and add a retractable roof. I get the nostalgia of the cold weather, but I’m not going to a game in December and January. Would rather watch on 75 inches in 4k on my couch than pay over $2,000 to take my family to freeze and fight traffic.

  5. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    Next week the Bulls bid on the JRTC.

  6. - Stu - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:41 pm:

    It’s Ted Phillips, so you know it’s likely a low ball offer

  7. - Lefty - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:41 pm:

    We don’t need the Bears. Let them walk. They only bring traffic and unruly fans. We won’t need as many police to serve the games, either.

  8. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    It’s a long way off but no one can blame them for looking. The massive stadia going up these days would eat up half that time in planning and construction. As even the Mayor notes their current situation is less than ideal. That said, they should pay for it themselves.

  9. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:44 pm:

    I love watching the bears right up Eola road from me..

    Oh yeah, that never happened, even when they had an option to buy the land.

    I think selling a bond issue to either the state or Arlington Hights is going to be tough sell. From what I understand besides the team the family doesn’t have a ton of resources, so you are looking at debt (either from the NFL or other lenders) that is at least half of the total value of the team.

    You do the ‘entertainment district’ thing, you have to build a dome or retractable roof (resulting in the costs above). Then you got to figure out how to use the facility the rest of the time. Having a retractable roof near downtown makes some sense for convention and other use. But is Arlington Heights ever going to be a convention destination?

    I don’t see it, but that is me.

  10. - Edyrdologist - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:47 pm:

    Like many of their fans, the Bears will now have to claim they’re from Chicago while actually living in the suburbs.

  11. - Red Ketcher - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:48 pm:

    as AD said “Add a Casino, Hotels, Shopping. Make it an all weekend experience with everything close to each other and add a retractable roof.”

    Be Great if they could keep the Racetrack . Racing in the Summer - Football in the Winter

    Lotta Ground there - Lotta possibilities
    And Da Bears can raise the Dough.

    Keep Racing

  12. - North Park - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:49 pm:

    Man, the return trip on that Metra line will be worse than the post-Ravinia crowd.

  13. - Fan of Coach Ditka - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:54 pm:

    What interesting know is do most season ticket holders live outside Chicago?

  14. - Responsa - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:55 pm:

    The idea of the Bears playing in the suburbs doesn’t alarm me. Doubt it will happen, though.

  15. - City Zen - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:56 pm:

    “I wouldn`t give them ice water in winter”

    - Rep. Carol Moseley Braun when the Sox considered moving to Addison

  16. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    Huge suburban news.
    The Daily Herald just ordered up both hands on deck to cover this story.

  17. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 2:59 pm:

    I’m all in, 100%. As long as the Bears pay the entire freight. Billionaire sports team owners fleecing taxpayers for new stadiums is a practice that has to end.

    Put a dome on it and Illinois can finally host a Final Four too!

  18. - Chris - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:00 pm:

    20 years ago, the “right” answer was a retractable roof facility next to the United Center. Would have been a brilliant facility—imagine a glass wall in one end zone (like Indy, but bigger) facing downtown. A third more seats than Soldier Field, and the ability to sell naming rights. On the Final Four rotation, probably on the Super Bowl rotation. Win-win-win.

    McCaskeys said “Bears play on grass, and on the Lake” so we gave them what they wanted—the smallest stadium in the NFL.

    Let them be the Arlington Heights Bears. But not with another dime of tax dollars. Where they gonna move if they don’t get their way? St Louis?

  19. - K3 - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    ==You could really create a regional commerical core in Arlington Heights too that would enhance the economy of the northern and Western burbs. ==

    Yeah because the northern and western suburbs are really where this state needs investment. I hope they don’t get a dime of taxpayer money for this.

  20. - Frank talks - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    Good move……10 games total played at Soldier Field. No real big value to neighborhood.
    Folks who come in for the games on weekends will still stay in the city. What are you going to do in AH for 3 days?
    Pretty much abandoning the entire Southside though. Anyone tailgating from Orland Park all the way out in AH?

  21. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:09 pm:

    Now can the McCaskeys either be fired or offer to sell the team?

  22. - Nick - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:10 pm:

    If they want to pay for it, okay, but they don’t deserve a cent of public money.

  23. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:12 pm:

    ==The Bears are, at this point, likely a restrictor on that neighborhood rather than an asset.==

    They wouldn’t be as much of a restrictor on their neighborhood if the ownership was at least a little more committed to Winning. And I’m not talking about 9-7 seasons almost every year. Division titles, playoff runs, and maybe an occasional Super Bowl appearance and/or even a title too.

  24. - Medvale School for the Gifted. - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:13 pm:

    Peotone would have been a better location.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:13 pm:

    Could care less about the final aspects, but would like the retractable roof for Final Fours, College Football Playoff, and a Super Bowl.

    That’s all that Soldier(s) Field is missing… that and a Daley adding the S that I felt captures the spirit of the thing.

  26. - south side sam - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:16 pm:

    Well, the one bright side is that this will cement Lightfoot’s history alongside Jane Byrne.

  27. - Cassie - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:16 pm:

    Would this mean we could get rid of the surface parking lots along the lakefront? If so, count me in doubly.

    Maybe we could even get the Red Stars to Soldier Field if they were gone?

    Chicago should not spend a dime, nor a tax credit, to keep the Bears in the city.

  28. - levivotedforjudy - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:16 pm:

    It should have been a dome. I wonder if Mayor Lightfoot would threaten to sue them over using “Chicago” in their name if they moved the way Mayor Daley did. That was great (and he seemed like he meant it too).

  29. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:19 pm:

    ===cement Lightfoot’s history alongside Jane Byrne.===

    That’s not fair, “The Blues Brothers” is the cornerstone of the Byrne Legacy when it comes to “sports and entertainment”.

    Strong legacy

  30. - Pundent - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:24 pm:

    The city and the Bears erred on Soldier Field and it’s only become more apparent over time. The Bears are in one of the largest NFL markets with an undersized limited use stadium. This is an opportunity to fix that. That’s not to say it will happen though.

  31. - Liz - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:25 pm:

    As an Arlington Heights-ian, I would be furious if the city gives over a single penny in subsidy to the Bears, whether directly or indirectly (hotel taxes that would be paid by my guests rather than just tourists). Arlington Heights is not blighted. It does not need to gamble on promises of economic development. If the Bears are willing to spend their own money, then, fine, the racetrack is as good a site as any, with the highway and the Metra stop (though I’d be displeased if too many people decide the designated off-ramps are too backed up and get off earlier, or if their mapping software decides this for them). But I can’t envision a stadium with a fairly small number of times in use over the year meaningfully contributing to the quality of life of the community

  32. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:28 pm:

    Am I the only one who is seeing this as bid stacking to increase the price/interest for the other racing industry which has also recently put in a bid?

    No. Just me. ok.

  33. - ddp76 - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:28 pm:

    I predict Ryan gets the team and brings in a few others to help get a stadium complex built. He already owns 20% with right of first refusal on any shares being sold. Look at what’s donated to NU facilities.

  34. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:31 pm:

    NFL plays the long game. More gambling coming. mrs MacKasky cannot live for ever. Brand new stadium with two NFL teams in Chicagoland as Bears sell and NFL expands

  35. - Lt Guv - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:45 pm:

    == Not sure the size of the Arlington Racetrack land but imagine you could ==

    326 acres.

  36. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:54 pm:

    == What interesting know is do most season ticket holders live outside Chicago? ==

    If I recall correctly when they were looking at Aurora one of the arguments was most of the season ticket holders did not live in the city at that time.

  37. - justaguy02 - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 4:04 pm:

    Seems like a bargaining chip for negotiations with the city. Churchill downs is going to sell to the highest bidder. I don’t believe the guy who wants the property all to hisself for 10 times a year is a serious bidder. Now if they announced a development partnership with CD, that would make sense.

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