Wednesday, February 16, 2022

City Makes Final Attempts to Persuade Bears to Stay at Chicago

The super bowl has come and gone.  A major storyline from this years big game was the Los Angeles Rams brand new $5 billion SoFi stadium.  It is a beautiful building no doubt.  Any team would be envious of that palace - especially a local one with a stadium that despite it's history doesn't meet the needs of the team and fans.

With that as a backdrop, it seems like the Mayor Lightfoot and the city are changing their tone and trying to make a final pitch to keep the Bears at Solider Field (via Chicago Tribune):

Mayor Lori Lightfoot plans to present the Chicago Bears with a “compelling financial case” for the team to stay in the city and her administration will “explore” the possibility of placing a roof on Soldier Field, she said in a pair of interviews Friday.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep the Bears in Chicago,” Lightfoot said on WSCR-AM 670. “We’re working on some plans to present to them that I think will make a very, very compelling financial case as to why it makes an abundance of sense for them to stay in Chicago.”

The city can offer the Bears “a tier-one market, a tier-one audience, fan base, and I don’t think they can get that in Arlington Heights,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot did not elaborate on what sort of financial arrangement the city can make that will keep the Bears from building a lucrative new stadium in the suburbs. But some experts have questioned whether anything short of a new building can convince the Bears to stay within the city limits.

Later, in an interview with WMVP-AM 1000, Lightfoot was asked about the possibility of putting a roof on Soldier Field.

“I think that’s something we have to explore. We do,” Lightfoot said. “My bigger thing is, obviously the roof is an issue, but there are other things we can do to really make the amenities more hospitable” for Bears fans.

The talk of a roof is interesting, but seems unlikely.  While that might make the temperature and experience in stadium nicer, there are bigger financial and logistical challenges that likely are more pressing.  Essentially how can the Bears make more money - whether that's increasing capacity or finding new revenue streams (stadium naming rights, ancillary businesses and fan experiences).

There are also the challenges of getting to Soldier Field that seems to be a sticking point.  Interestingly enough, the massive One Central development seems like it could help on that front.  That plan isn't really linked to the Bears, but could the city (and state) use that as an opportunity to sway the Bears to stay?  Not sure if it's feasible, but that seems like it could help.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.  If we were betting a person we would put our money on the Bears leaving the Sloop.

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