The Bears tried to gain influence Thursday in their conversations with the city of Chicago about updates to Soldier Field. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot disagreed.
First, the team announced that it had submitted an offer to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property in Arlington Heights, Illinois, about an hour northwest of the stadium. Lightfoot then responded with a reminder that the Bears’ Soldier Field lease runs through 2033, and he fired a few shots at the franchise for good measure.
“This is clearly a negotiating tactic the Bears have used before,” Lightfoot posted on Twitter. “As a longtime Bears fan and season ticket holder, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name on our soccer team. And like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus. in putting a winning team on the field, Packers, and finally being relevant this past October. Everything else is noise. “
For the sake of accuracy, the Bears reached the extended NFC playoffs last season with an 8-8 record. They lost to the Saints in the wild card round. In fact, Chicago made the postseason two of the last three years (2018, 2020) with coach Matt Nagy and finished 8-8 in 2019 when it missed the playoffs. However, he has lost his last four games against the Packers.
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Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said in the team statement that it is “the franchise’s obligation to ensure that we are doing what is best for our organization and its future.”
It is not known how much the Bears bid for the 326-acre property in Arlington.
Soldier Field, located along Lake Michigan, opened in 1924. A massive renovation in 2003 changed the appearance of the stadium to that of a modern NFL facility. The Bears began playing there in 1971 after leaving Wrigley Field.
Lightfoot told reporters in April that Soldier Field was a “great iconic site,” but also a “challenging site.” She seemed willing to work with the team for more updates.
“I think it’s incumbent on us as a city to step up and look at ways that we can make sure that Bears fans, but also Bears as an organization, have the best opportunities to maximize the fan experience and thus course, maximize revenue ” she said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Arlington International Racecourse used to be one of the nation’s premier thoroughbred horse racing tracks. It was famous for its grass pitch. The track’s current owner, Churchill Downs, put the property up for sale in February. The races on the track will end on September 25.