Schrock: Bears' Arlington Park plan is obvious win if it happens


On Tuesday, the Bears took another step toward their move to the northwest Chicago suburbs when they released their preliminary plans for their desired new stadium in Arlington Heights.

The letter included renderings of the stadium and surrounding area the Bears plan to build into an entertainment/park district. It also contains information about the stadium's enclosed nature, the project's funding, and notes the Bears will honor the terms of their lease with Soldier Field, which runs through 2033.

The Bears' letter used the word if a lot, noting the franchise is still in the preliminary phases of planning this extensive project. That feels like semantics, though.

The move makes too much sense for the Bears to fall through.

Soldier Field is historic, yes. It's ingrained in the city's DNA. But the charter franchise of the NFL shouldn't be so far behind the majority of the league when it comes to stadiums and entertainment areas built around the venue that houses the franchise.

Since 2009, the Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Giants, and Dallas Cowboys all have built new stadiums to generate more revenue.

The Buffalo Bills and Washington Commanders both are eyeing new stadiums as well.

Continuing to lease Soldier Field from the city of Chicago is an untenable agreement for a sports franchise, especially one as iconic as the Bears. Throw in the financial incentives for the McCaskey family, who, unlike other NFL owners, don't have another business to fill their coffers, and it's clear why this will and should happen.

Building a "Bears land" surrounded by hotels, restaurants, bars, parks, and whatever else is something that is fitting for a charter franchise.

The Bears have watched other teams erect state-of-the-art stadiums to showcase their teams. They've watched those franchises be rewarded with praise, multiple primetime showcases, and Super Bowls.

Meanwhile, the Bears continue to toil away at the oldest and smallest-capacity stadium in the NFL. One where the grass is the butt of jokes and causes the kicker to seek out ripped-up soccer fields to practice on in the offseason.

The Bears hold themselves in high regard—the pioneers of the NFL.

But they've watched several NFL franchises zoom by them when it comes to venues, with more on the way.

The Bears' proposed move to Arlington Park is about many things. Money is obviously chief among them. But it should also be about catching up to the rest of the NFL. The desire to house the franchise in a building that suits the lofty light they hold it in.

When the Bears leave Soldier Field, yes, when not if, you're free to miss the historic nature of the stadium and grumble about the end of "Bears Weather."

But 98 years after Soldier Field opened, it's time for the Bears to get with the times. The Arlington Park letter signals they plan to do just that.

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