Editor’s note: In the wake of Chicago Bears President Kevin Warren holding his “town hall” of sorts with the village of Arlington Heights, we re-publish this piece on the situation from early 2022.
You’ve heard the news by now- the Chicago Bears have signed the purchase agreement for the Arlington International Racecourse property in suburban Arlington Heights, Illinois. While it’s not set in stone yet that the Bears will move out of Soldier Field, and out to the suburbs, well, it’s going to happen.
The Bears’ statement released on Tuesday basically served as a notice that their mind is made up. They’re finally going to do what they’ve been trying to do for 40-50 years- escape the city and move to the burbs. Their town hall in Arlington Heights tomorrow night will only further serve to move this deal closer towards completion.
Maybe the Bears will finally be halfway decent at playing football by the time that they move out there! Maybe not, as they have a long ways to go yet, to even be mediocre.
That said, let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly on the Bears moving to Arlington Heights.
Moving to Arlington Heights Positives
Chicago will probably be able to host a Super Bowl (and also a Final Four) now as most likely the club will build a dome on the property. How often they get to is another story however, and we’d have to run a significant, sophisticated cost/benefit analysis to see if it’s really worth it.
As they will keep Chicago in their name, the Bears will be just like much of their fanbase, suburbanites who claim they’re from “Chicago.”
If this move gets the Bears more autonomy over their business, then they should bring in more revenue, and thus improve the quality of the product. At least in theory, but we’ll see.
“Trickle down” economics has always been, and always will be a scam that the ultra-rich perpetrate on the rest of us.
While parking can suck currently, and there will be issues with it out there as well, the overall parking situation should improve. A move out to Arlington Heights could honestly open the door to the possibility of Chicago potentially getting a second team, something it desperately needs. At this point, it doesn’t even feel like we have a first team.
Moving to Arlington Heights Negatives
Unless the ownership figures out what the hell they’re doing in terms of hiring the right people to build a winning roster, then they’ll be just as unwatchable as they are now, only they’ll be unwatchable in the northwest burbs instead of the city.
Unless they do something about crowd control/security, the same mean drunks that are in your section at games, starting fights with each other/you will still be there.
Ticket prices will almost certainly be even higher than they are now, which is egregious to say the least.
Traffic is bad on the Kennedy right now, most of the time, it will reach a new level of horror on Bears game days. While Soldier Field and the lakefront location have plenty of issues, there are a lot of positives to it as well, and those traditions and standards are now thrown out the window.
While the NFL and the Bears are synonymous with soulless selling out already, this all looks like an obvious money grab, even by their standards. The move will not end up being more cost effective for the club’s supporters.
We’ll still have to endure Mike Ditka endorsing god knows what in ludicrously unwatchable advertising spots, even after the move.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.