Bernstein: Fan perspective feels different, more informed as Bears once again flirt with move to suburbs

Fans aren't nearly as upset as Lori Lightfoot is about the Bears potentially leaving the city.

(670 The Score) If Lori Lightfoot was trying to burnish her old-school Bears meatball cred, her official statement responding to the team's bid for Arlington Park made Chicago's mayor sound like a radio caller from 20 years ago.

"This is clearly a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before," Lightfoot said Thursday. "As a season-ticket holder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to the 'Chicago' name in our football team. And like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally and being relevant past October. Everything else is noise."

And then we presume she dumped Italian beef gravy on her head while demanding Chris Zorich be moved to linebacker.

The rest of Bears fandom, meanwhile, considered the possibilities of a move to a new stadium in the suburbs much more reasonably, perhaps uncharacteristically so. Lightfoot may have believed she was racing to the front of the parade and carrying the flag for an angry mob ready to lash out at greedy owners, but if so, it was a glaring miscalculation.

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Perhaps we've come a long way from our default setting, a knee-jerk negative reaction to such major potential change as a Bears move away from Soldier Field, home of so much history and ridiculous Bear Weather mythos. Resistance to such ideas has long been a small-town attribute of this big city, and it's worth noting the factors involved in what seems to be new and more informed perspective among Bears fans.

Foremost is the fact that going to an NFL game is now off the table for an increasing number of us, who now appreciate that the arenas are merely enormous television studios in which a product is produced and directed that is best consumed in the comfort of one's own home on that giant HD screen on the wall.  The beer is cold and cheap, the crockpot contents needn't be conveyed by vendors, the bathroom is empty and clean and there isn't a shirtless clod in close proximity, bellowing profanities and threatening fistfights.  At least for most of us.

Among those who still attend games at Soldier Field, many are aware that the current experience is far less than industry standard even after the 2003 renovation and subsequent video board additions. Getting from one's home to one's seat can be a grueling ordeal, with ingress and egress issues affecting both driving and walking. Restroom lines can be long enough to cost two Bears possessions of total time or more, and then there are the elements that only seem romantic when it's someone else's nose freezing off.  And do you remember all the fuss over the classical colonnades and landmark status and tHeY rEPreSeNt dA trOOpS? Didn't think so.

It's also not baseball, with its 81 regular-season home games and the architecture of the building itself significant in actual game play. It's a standardized gridiron that's an eight-times-per-year destination for even the most dedicated, many of whom are now living in places that would make the northwest suburban location a distinct convenience.

Put a retractable roof on a state-of-the-art facility, and we're really talking.  Bears fans may actually just be ready to enjoy the same creature comforts they see elsewhere around the league.

Besides, any move is a long way off.  This is just the bid phase of the land purchase, there are currently still thoroughbreds running on that track, the current Bears stadium lease runs through 2033 and there are still other sites that could be viable for a new home.  We have plenty of time to get worked up as much as the mayor if we want to.

The fact that we're having far more intense discussions about the developmental timetable for an intriguing young quarterback can only be a step in a better direction.

Dan Bernstein is the co-host of the Bernstein & Rahimi Show on middays from 9 a.m. until noon on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter@Dan_Bernstein.

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