On Wednesday morning – or late Tuesday night, depending on which coast you are on – the Chicago Bears announced in a statement that they had bought land in Arlington Heights, Illinois, in hopes of building a new stadium and moving to the northern suburbs of Chicago.
The news is not exactly world-destroying. NFL teams go all the time, sometimes in completely different states. (Hello, Las Vegas Riders.) With the Bears buying land in less than an hour with plans to build a new, modern venue, that doesn’t seem far-reaching.
However, it does not appear that the city of Chicago is ready to let the Bears go. Heck, city officials don’t believe the party is at all sarcastic, calling the land purchase a move to go beyond paying for the renovation of Soldier Field.
So how serious is the Bears movement?
As Scott Powers of The Athletic explained in detail, the Bears made a bid for the Arlington International Racecourse in June. Their lease on Soldier Field is set to expire in 2033, and the penalty for leaving is reduced after 2026, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Bears are laying the groundwork for a new stadium elsewhere.
Chicago Mayor Laurie E. Lightfoot doesn’t seem to be taking land purchases seriously, calling it a “negotiation strategy” on the part of the Bears, which disagrees with the Chicago Park District over repairing the Soldier Field.
“As a season tickholder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the name‘ Chicago ’on our football team,” Lightfoot said back in June. “And like most Bears fans, we want the organization to set up a winning team on the field, finally defeat the Packers and focus on being relevant last October. Everything else is noisy.”
Lightfoot echoed the same sentiment this week when the land purchase was announced.