Cubs and Sox fans have their squabbles in the summer, but when the fall rolls around -- especially when both baseball teams are out of contention -- the two fanbases come together under one blue-and-orange roof. Yes, everyone's a Bears fan in Chicago; the football team unites otherwise divided fans like few franchises can. The Bulls and 'Hawks play their role, but it's really the Bears that bring us together.
Which is why Mayor Daley's claim on Comcast's Monsters in the Morning this week seems strange, but simultaneously exciting: Could Chicago really support two football franchises? Daley thinks so:
"We should have a second NFL team in Chicago. If San Francisco has two, New York has two, Florida has three teams … and when you take Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, they have three teams there in that region, we could easily support a second pro football team," Daley recently reiterated [...] "The population is here, the business community is here. ... [The NFL] should really look at Chicago."
Chicago has had two football teams before, when the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) existed on the South Side in the shadow of the 'Papa Bear' George Halas and the more popular Bears, who played at Wrigley Field. That team left in 1959 for St. Louis, and since then the Bears have been the only act in town. That monolithic status has made the Bears an incredibly popular football franchise. Would Bears fans defect to another team?
It seems doubtful. At the very least, it would require an influx of new fans -- perhaps those who never really took an interest in the Bears -- and a culture of success to rival the Bears' history and tradition.
Of course, Daley has his alterior motives. He'd like a second team to build a new stadium in Chicago, something he could use to campaign for the 2016 Olympics. He's not exactly pure of spirit. But in a tangible way, he's also correct: Few cities can financially support a football team the way Chicago could. It's the intangible -- the fandom -- that is more a cause for concern.