Early Wednesday morning — or late Tuesday night, depending on which coast you are on — the Chicago Bears announced in a statement they purchased land in Arlington Heights, Ill., with the expectation of building a new stadium and moving to the suburb north of Chicago.
The news isn’t exactly earth-shattering. NFL teams move all the time, sometimes to completely different states. (Hello, Las Vegas Raiders.) The Bears purchasing land less than an hour away with the plan of building a new, modern place space doesn’t seem far-fetched.
However, it doesn’t appear that the city of Chicago is ready to let the Bears go. Heck, city officials don’t seem to believe the team will move at all, calling the land purchase a move to get out of paying for renovations to Soldier Field.
So just how serious are the Bears about moving?
As Scott Powers of The Athletic explained in great detail, the Bears put in a bid for the Arlington International Racecourse back in June. Their lease at Soldier Field expires in 2033, and the penalty for leaving, according to the Chicago Tribune, decreases after 2026. While there is still plenty of work to be done with regard to finalizing the agreement and breaking ground, this all sounds like the Bears are laying the foundation to build themselves a new stadium elsewhere.
Chicago mayor Lori E. Lightfoot doesn’t appear to be taking the land purchase seriously, calling it a “negotiation tactic” on the part of the Bears, which are at odds with the Chicago Park District over making repairs to Soldier Field.
“As a season ticketholder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name in our football team,” Lightfoot said back in June. “And like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally, and being relevant past October. Everything else is noise.”
Lightfoot echoed that same sentiment this week when the land purchase was announced.