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The city of Chicago has been dialing up the Hail Mary this week in an effort to keep the Bears from moving to suburban Arlington Heights.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed the city is prepared to take steps towards improving Soldier Field, including looking into the feasibility of installing a dome, making renovations inside the stadium, improving access, and even re-designing the entire museum campus to make gamedays more inviting for fans.
But it appears those attempts have been futile and the Bears are still fully focused on the land they purchased in Arlington Heights last year.
The reimagined Museum Campus will enhance the city’s world-class institutions and important natural spaces with exciting new gathering places, improved physical access, and additional public amenities. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/IM8JBvforJ
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 7, 2022
In a statement first obtained by Christopher Placek of the Daily Herald, the Bears reiterated their desire to fully vet the former site of the Arlington International Racecourse and not entertain renovations to their current stadium:
The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. 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.
The Bears entered into an agreement with Arlington Park last fall, agreeing to purchase the 326 acres of land for more than $197 million. The deal won’t be finalized until 2023 at the earliest, however. Since entering into an agreement, reports have been slow to come out about the team’s progress in evaluating the land, but have continued to do their due diligence in exploring possible stadium options.
Though the team is seemingly putting all their eggs into the basket in the northwest suburbs, their statement didn’t shut the door on renovations or reimagined plans if the deal were to fall through. It seems highly unlikely, but if the Bears were unable to to finalize the purchase for Arlington Park, they could go back to the city and work with them to make the laundry list of renovations to the lakefront property.
The Bears’ lease with Soldier Field expires after 2033, but the team could opt to break it in 2026 for a penalty and bolt to Arlington Heights in just a few years. Lightfoot and the city are doing what they can to keep the charter franchise of the NFL in Chicago, but like so many Bears games in recent memory, it appears a loss is imminent.