CHICAGO, Ill. - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pontificated on the most impactful decision the Chicago Bears will make in the near future at his state of the league address ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.
No, Goodell will not be making the Bears' quarterback decision for them.
Instead, Goodell, during a Monday press conference in Las Vegas, expressed his interest in a new stadium for the Chicago Bears. That interest lies in whichever the franchise decides to choose.
"As we’ve seen here (in Las Vegas), a great stadium can host additional events. I think that’s true in Chicago," Goodell said Monday. "I think the domed stadium that they're talking about, both in downtown and potentially in Arlington Heights, I think those are both great opportunities I think they need to explore."
Those comments are important.
A recent report from Crain's Chicago said the Bears are zeroing in on a new stadium on the Chicago lakefront, even after the Bears purchased land that includes Arlington Park.
Goodell said he's talked with both Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and he's spoken with representatives from Arlington Heights. He's not just watching. The commissioner of the biggest sports league in the world is actively interacting with this decision that's out of his hands.
It's a sign the NFL has its eyes on Chicago. The league has a vested interest in whatever the Bears decide to do.
That interest will pay off.
This is a decision the Bears will make. Goodell can only check in on the process and offer any insight, but the final call on where the stadium will be comes down to the Bears brass.
But, Goodell makes other decisions, too. He and league make the important decisions such as where the NFL will play the Super Bowl.
In 2020, the NFL Draft was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas. The Coronavirus pandemic nixed those plans. However, the league's visits in 2020 and the prior months leading up to the draft left an impression on Goodell.
He talked about that impression at his state of the league address in Miami ahead of Super Bowl LIV, which coincidentally featured the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers as Super Bowl LVIII will this Sunday.
"The reception has been really, really tremendous," Goodell said in 2020, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "You can see it with the fans and their reaction. Not only in ticket sales, you can see it in the business community and how they are wrapping their arms around this team. You can feel the excitement."
This was just for the NFL Draft, too. The Bears have already hosted the NFL Draft in 2015 and 2016. The league knows how much Chicago embraces the league.
That and a new stadium could help the league decide Chicago is ready to host an event like the Super Bowl.
"As I said when I was out there, I think we should get through the draft before we focus on the Super Bowl," Goodell said in 2020, referring to a recent visit to Las Vegas. "But that is coming quickly, and our attempts to move to the next Super Bowl probably will be done before the end of calendar year here in ’20."
Putting it simply, the league likes to show off its new digs.
Allegiant Stadium opened in 2020. Las Vegas is hosting the Super Bowl this year.
SoFi Stadium opened in 2020. Los Angeles hosted the Super Bowl in 2022.
Dallas opened AT&T Stadium in 2009. In 2011, Dallas was hosting the Super Bowl.
The location does not matter to the league, as Goodell mentioned. He's been in contact with both Arlington Heights and Chicago, and he sees the pros and cons for both.
Once the Bears settle on a decision, the league can start thinking about the future beyond that. There's no rush, but Goodell's interest is a good sign.
"The good news is that they have quite a bit of time on their lease and the Bears are committed to being in Chicagoland," Goodell said Monday. "I think they’ll be able to develop a proposal good for the fans, but I also think it will be great for Chicago."