Are Bears preparing to move from Soldier Field to suburban stadium?
from Sportsnaut, with Vincent Frank, and from YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com
Soldier Field, the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, is among the most iconic sporting venues in North America. Opening up in 1924, it remains the oldest stadium in the entire NFL.
That might not be the case moving forward.
The Bears announced on Thursday that they submitted a bid to purchase Arlington International Racecourse in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.
“We recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property,” Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips said in a statement. “It’s our obligation to pursue every possible option to ensure we’re doing what’s best for our organization and its future. If selected, this step allows us to further evaluate the property and its potential.”
Arlington International Racecourse opened in 1927. Its current owner, Churchill Downs Inc., announced recently a planned development and the possibility of transitioning the site away from racing. As for a potential relocation, local leaders touched on the topic this week.
“It’s still on the table, to my understanding, but it’s a complete, definite maybe,” Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said this week, via NBC Chicago. “I’m not in a position where I could say it’s a definite ‘go’ or ‘no go.’”
As we noted above, Soldier Field is right up there with Lambeau Field as the most prominent NFL stadium.
Outside of the sports world, Soldier Field has hosted some of the most legendary musicians in history for concerts. That list includes the likes of Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and the Grateful Dead. It has been a go-to for the entertainment industry for more than a half century.
Old-school NFL fans will not be happy about the possibility that the Bears could trade in Soldier Field for a more modern suburban stadium. That’s for sure.
With that said, the idea of modernizing their venue is something the Bears have considered for the past three decades. Back in the 1980s, the organization considered moving to Arlington Heights before ultimately opting to renovate Soldier Field.
Whether this is even a possibility right now remains to be seen, as pointed out by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“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.”
This is something to keep a close eye on heading into the 2021 NFL season. While it wouldn’t happen for a while, the idea of the Bears moving from Soldier Field will act as a backdrop locally and within the larger confines of the gridiron world.
The Bears open up their season on the road against the Los Angeles Rams before returning home to host the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field in Week 2.