The Chicago Bears announced a proposal this week to buy the property at Arlington International Racecourse, a racetrack in the suburbs. It would open the door for the Bears to move out of the actual city of Chicago and build a brand new stadium, forgoing Soldier Field, where they have played since 1971.
Many in the city were unhappy with the announcement, but perhaps the most vocal critic was Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, who leveled some not-so-subtle shade at the Bears in a statement responding to the bid.
“This announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvements at Soldier Field,” the statement read. “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 football team on the field, beating the Packers finally and being relevant past October. Everything else is noise.”
Talk about hitting the organization where it hurts. Chicago has beaten their longtime rival in Green Bay just once since 2016 in ten attempts, and despite making the playoffs twice in the last three years, they only have one winning record since 2012.
The Bears are locked in a lease at Soldier Field, which is smack in the middle of the city on Lake Michigan, until 2033, so a move to the suburbs likely wouldn’t happen right away. The team has logical reasons for wanting a move: Soldier Field has the NFL’s lowest capacity at just 61,500, and the property at Arlington would allow for a much bigger stadium.
Lightfoot, however, appears determined to keep Chicago’s NFL team in within the city limits.
The mayor has been critical of the team in the past, saying in a 2020 interview on 670 The Score that the Bears’ 2019 season was “brutal” and that she wanted more from then-quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.