Soldier Field

Is Soldier Field still in play for the Bears?

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Bears CEO/President Kevin Warren recently released a joint statement.

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The Bears are on a tiresome, winding path to find a new home.

It all started in September 2021, when the Bears placed a bid to purchase the land at Arlington Park. On Feb. 15 of this year, the Bears announced they officially closed on the land for $197.2 million. Since then, they've been making progress in hopes of constructing a new stadium in Arlington Heights.

Recently, however, the Bears and Arlington Heights reached an impasse. Both sides failed to reach an agreement on the property valuation, leaving the Bears with a massive annual tax bill. The two sides have yet to reach a deal, and since then, the Bears announced Arlington Heights is no longer their "singular focus" for the stadium.

Following the aftermath of the Bears' announcement, Bears CEO/President Kevin Warren and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson released a joint statement about the future.

“Today we met and discussed our shared values and commitment to the city of Chicago, the importance of deep roots and the need for equitable community investment throughout the city," the statement read. "We are both committed to the idea that the city and its major civic institutions must grow and evolve together to meet the needs of the future. We look forward to continuing the dialogue around these shared values.”

The statement piques the question -- is Soldier Field on the table for the Bears' future home?

For starters, the above statement shouldn't set off the alarms that the Bears are interested in returning to Soldier Field.

They aren't.

Yes, their lease runs through 2033, but a feasible exit fee of ~$84 million won't raise eyebrows of the books in the accounting department, considering the benefits of owning a stadium greatly outweigh the cons.

Why? It's because Soldier Field offers the Bears zero avenues for profitability. The Bears rent from the Chicago Park District to play at Soldier Fields. That's right. Rent. The Bears are one of two teams in the NFL that do not own the stadium with which they play.

The Bears' decision to peruse other stadium possibilities is well overdue. With a stadium to call theirs, the Bears will open up opportunities to profit via anything stadium-related (parking, concessions), naming rights, advertising sponsors and other events they can host.

Think about how much money the Bears would've made if they hosted Taylor Swift for her three-day concert at Soldier Field. They didn't see a dime of it.

The tax assessment roadblock gave way for some to consider the Bears looking at Soldier Field as an option. Yet, the Bears' involvement with the city of Chicago, Naperville and Waukegan -- two suburbs that have contacted the Bears with interest in hosting their new stadium site -- is simply a negotiating tactic for the Bears to use against tax assessors in Arlington Heights.

The land the Bears purchased in Arlington Heights outmatches the competition in the suburbs. It is rare to own 326 acres of land. That's why they've continuously promoted the construction as Illinois' largest construction project. The land's unrivaled.

Arlington Heights gives the Bears the best chance at monetizing a stadium.

Hence, the Bears moving off Arlington Heights, nonetheless revisiting Soldier Field, is extremely improbable. If the Bears move off Arlington Heights, they most certainly will not return to Soldier Field. Owning is better than renting. And that's why the Bears hired Warren, who spearheaded U.S. Bank Stadium's construction, to deliver a new stadium for them.

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