After the Chicago Bears announced that the team had submitted a bid to purchase Arlington International Racecourse, presumably in a bid to build a stadium at the site, Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired back, dismissing the bid as a “negotiating tactic” that is merely “noise,” rather than a legitimate concern.
In the mayor’s scathing statement, she says that the Bears are locked into their lease at Soldier Field through 2033, and that she is committed to keeping the team in the city for the long term.
“Our city is home to some of the world’s finest sports teams, who have played a vital role in the city’s reopening,” she said. “As part of the city’s recovery, many organizations are doubling down on their commitment to Chicago, and we expect the Chicago Bears to follow suit. The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033.
“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 ticket holder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name in our football team.
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“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 just noise,” she concluded.
Lightfoot’s statement made reference to the team’s previous flirtations with moving to other communities, including Aurora, Arlington Heights and even Gary, Indiana. The team signed a new lease with the city after a 2002 renovation at the stadium, which will keep the team in Chicago through 2033, according to the mayor’s office.
Bears Team President Ted Phillips announced that the club had made the bid to purchase Arlington on Thursday, saying that the team is obligated to explore all potential options for where it will play its games.
“It’s our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we’re doing what’s best for our organization and it’s future,” he said. “If selected, this step allows us to further evaluate the property and its potential.”
Several other bids have been submitted to purchase the iconic track, which will close after this racing season. A decision on which bid to accept will be made at a later date, Arlington Heights officials said.