Are the Chicago Bears looking to move out of Chicago? On Thursday, Bears president Ted Phillips announced the team put in a bid for a large piece of land in Arlington Heights, which is located 35 miles outside of the city of Chicago. This comes after rumors of the team looking to move to that area in the foreseeable future.
"We recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property," Phillips said. "It's our obligation to explore 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."
According to CBS Sports, the land, which is 326 acres is occupied by the Arlington Park race track. However, Churchill Downs Inc. who owns the track is selling all the land with the exception that the new buyer is going to re-develop the site after tearing down the track. When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot heard about the bid, she released a statement while taking a shot at the team.
"The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033," she said. "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. As a season ticketholder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name in our football team. 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.”
CBS Sports mentioned the Bears would like to stay in Chicago. But it's not going to be easy as Soldier Field will have to go through some major renovations in order to keep up with current stadiums in the league. The stadium opened in 1924 and holds 61,500. In 2004, the Bears went through major renovations which ended up costing $690 million.
The Bears have a lease to play at Soldier Field for another 13 seasons. However, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes believes a move is very likely. "I know there's contracts involved and lease agreements," Hayes said. "But a good attorney will tell you, you can always get out of those. There might be a significant price involved, but I would think if they wanted to make it happen, they could make it happen."