Bears use Arlington’s offer to rush Chicago to Soldier Field; mayor says they should focus on improving

The Bears tried to capitalize on their talks with the City of Chicago on Thursday over improvements to Soldier Field. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn’t have it.

First, the team announced that they had submitted an offer to purchase the property at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill., About an hour northwest of the stadium. Then Lightfoot responded by recalling that Bears’ Soldier Field’s lease was until 2033, and she threw a few shots at the franchise for good measure.

“This is clearly a negotiating tactic the Bears have used before,” Lightfoot wrote on Twitter. “As a season ticket holder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the name ‘Chicago’ on our football team. And like most Bears fans, we want the Bears to keep the name ‘Chicago’ on our football team. organization is focused on building a winning team on the pitch, beating the Packers and finally being relevant after October. Everything else is noise. “

For clarity, the Bears made the NFC Extended Playoffs last season with an 8-8 record. They lost to the Saints in the jokers round. In fact, Chicago made the playoffs two of the last three years (2018, 2020) under coach Matt Nagy and finished 8-8 in 2019 when he missed the playoffs. He has lost his last four games to the Packers, however.

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Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said in the team statement that it was “the franchise’s obligation to ensure that we are doing what is best for our organization and his future”.

It is not known how much the Bears bid on the 326-acre Arlington property.

Soldier Field, located along Lake Michigan, opened in 1924. A massive renovation in 2003 changed the look of the stadium to that of a modern NFL facility. The Bears began playing there in 1971 after leaving Wrigley Field.

Lightfoot told reporters in April that Soldier Field was a “great iconic site” but also a “difficult site”. She seemed willing to work with the team to do more upgrades.

“I think it’s incumbent on us as a city to step up and look for ways to ensure that Bears fans, but also the Bears as an organization, have the best opportunities to maximize the fan experience. and, of course, maximizing income “, she said, by the Chicago Tribune.

Arlington International Racecourse was one of the nation’s premier thoroughbred racetracks. He was famous for his turf course. The current owner of the track, Churchill Downs, put the property up for sale in February. The races on the track will end on September 25.

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