On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed a $900 million to $2.2 billion Hail Mary offer to convince the Bears to stay in their home stadium of over 50 years.
However, the Chicago Bears stated in a press release earlier this month that they wouldn’t consider any other offers, even for their home stadium, Soldier Field. The NFL team reaffirmed that sentiment to ESPN this week, noting that they were set on moving to another location over 30 miles away.
“As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract,” stated the team.
The Bears plan to move to Arlington Park, the longtime site of Churchill Downs’ thoroughbred racing in Arlington Heights. That area experiences well below the national median of crime levels, according to multiple crime statistic analyses. Census data reports that the area has a median household income of over $100,200, and just over four percent of residents were in poverty.
Comparatively, the city of Chicago suffers from high crime rates characterized by record numbers of shootings. Census data revealed that the city had a median household income of nearly $62,100, and over 17 percent of residents were in poverty.
Along with the Bears’ definitive statement, Lightfoot revealed to AP News that the team refused to meet with her.
Even so, Lightfoot hasn’t slowed on her attempts to further negotiations. Lightfoot explained in Monday’s press release that the $900 million to $2.2 billion would cover three different renovation options that could result in either a fully-enclosed stadium, a dome stadium, or a multi-purpose stadium suitable for soccer games and concerts.
Lightfoot noted that the first two options were proposed with the Bears in mind. She asserted that the Bears would save an estimated $1 to $1.5 billion in costs if they remained with Soldier Field rather than moving on to Arlington Park.
The mayor also launched a website, “Re-Imagine Soldier Field,” as part of her last-ditch effort to win back the Bears. The site offers downloadable digital renderings of desired renovations.
The Bears are one of the latest to leave the city. As The Daily Wire reported, several multibillion-dollar companies have left or are planning on leaving, including the major multinational hedge fund company Citadel.
Lightfoot’s struggle to keep her home team from leaving is about a year in the making. The Bears announced last September that they signed a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) for Arlington Park, agreeing to just over $197 million for the move. Multiple major business owners reported that the rising crime rates, along with other social issues, prompted their desire to leave. The Bears didn’t elaborate at length on their decision to leave their longtime metropolis home base, though Arlington Park has abundant surrounding acreage for development.
According to Forbes’ 2021 NFL valuations, the Bears are worth $4.1 billion and had $370 million in revenue. That puts them at seventh on the list of most-valuable teams in the NFL.
The Bear’s current lease with Soldier Field ends in 2033.