Bears looking for ‘alternative’ options to playing at Soldier Field, per NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
It might soon be the end of city-living for the Chicago Bears. Longtime residents of the world-famous Soldier Field located in downtown Chicago — since 1971 — the organization announced its intention to make a bid for a 326-acre plot in Arlington Heights (a former racetrack) for the purpose of constructing a new home. The bid has now been made and the approval was received to use it for a football stadium, and that couldn’t possibly be more evidence that the Bears are seemingly not bluffing. When asked about the possible move, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell effectively admitted it’s possible.
He stopped short of confirming a move and/or where the team might end up, but did address the aforementioned bid.
“I don’t know the answer to that question other than to know this is a really early stage to develop potentially an alternative,” Goodell told 670 The Score on Wednesday. “But I think a lot has to be done here. I know their commitment to the Chicago area is 110 percent, and that’s the most important thing to me. We have a long lease at Soldier Field. It’s a great place.
“But we’re all looking to the longterm and trying to look at alternatives, and that’s what the Bears are doing. But I think for fans right now, I wouldn’t be focused on that. There’s a lot that has to go into this. Right now, let’s enjoy the ’21 season.
“A lot of excitement for the Bears.”
Unfortunately for Goodell, it’s unrealistic to ask fans as maniacally loyal as those who love the Bears to disregard the potential of their team no longer playing at Soldier Field. If anything, the opposite is occurring — fueled by a public rift between the team’s ownership and Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot. A clear dissenter of the plan/attempt/idea to leave city limits for the suburbs, Lightfoot fired a shot at the Bears heard around the NFL, and especially the NFC North.
“As a season-ticket holder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name in our football team,” Lightfoot said. “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.”
She wasn’t done there, also accusing the Bears of trying to use Arlington Heights as a means of muscling Chicago in current talks.
“As part of the city’s recovery, many organizations are doubling down on their commitment to Chicago, and we expect the Chicago Bears to follow suit,” Lightfoot said. “The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033. In addition, this announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvements at Soldier Field. This is clearly a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before.”
There’s a lot to be sorted out in Chicago, and not just on the field, but also the field itself.