Another benchmark has been cleared in the ongoing developments of the Chicago Bears relocation plans to Arlington Heights. In a statement released by the team on February 15th, the Bears announced that they have officially closed on the property that will be their future stadium on the grounds of the former Arlington Racecourse. They state, decisively, that “…this is only a step in their vision of constructing an enclosed state-of-the-art stadium and multi-purpose entertainment district.”
While this isn’t confirmation that the Chicago Bears will in fact be moving, it’s a pretty damn good indication that’s where this is heading. There are still plenty of hurdles to clear in a very long and trying process, but this feels like a major step forward and one you do not take unless you have the utmost confidence that this plan will go through.
This is the second open letter the team has released. The first, released last fall, sparked conversation from all sides. Fans found them torn between logic and emotion, with some drawing a hardline in the sand and going as far as saying they’d disown the team entirely if they moved, almost assuming they’d somehow rebrand as the Arlington Heights Bears. Those of logic and reason variety understand that the only way to stay relevant in the modern NFL is to advance your franchise, and to do that your reputation as a franchise is directly tied to the product not only on the field, but the status as a business. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a damn thing since Bill Clinton was president but people still turn toward Jerry Jones as the litmus test of the league as a whole. Also, the Dallas Cowboys don’t play in Dallas.
In the long run, the Chicago Bears plan to move from downtown to the suburbs is 100 percent rooted in the need to advance. Yes, the Chicago Bears are a historic franchise, and yes, they’ve played at historic Soldier Field for half a century but Soldier Field is not some museum you visit a few times per year, touch nothing, and then meticulously curate to preserve history. Soldier Field, while iconic, is a hassle. It’s a logistical nightmare that’s both dated and too small to house a franchise in the modern NFL. It’s also not owned by the Chicago Bears.
The move to Arlington Heights opens up the opportunity for the Bears to have full control of their stadium, the ability to create an entertainment district around the stadium a la Wrigleyville, and this all goes without saying the importance of having an enclosed stadium to not only (a) protect the games from Chicago’s harsh winter conditions and (b) open up the door for Chicago to become a premier destination for major sporting events such as The Final Four, year round concerts, and to host a coveted Super Bowl.
In the end, we hope it happens. We understand the importance of the Bears owning their stadium and the financial benefits that come from that. It would also be pretty cool to have a Super Bowl played five minutes away from this writer’s house. Time will tell how this process plays out moving forward but for the time being this is a massive step in the right direction for the Chicago Bears to make the leap to new digs in Arlington Heights. That is if Lori Lightfoot doesn’t chain herself to the building doors in protest first.
Featured Image Credit: Hart Howerton, Chicago Bears