(670 The Score) New information has emerged that may be contributing to the Bears’ flirtation with moving to the suburbs.
The Bears are irked with the Chicago Park District for what the team believes is a failure by the Park District “to engage in good faith discussions” about expanding sports gambling opportunities at Solider Field, WBEZ reported Monday morning. The Bears lease their home of Soldier Field from the Park District.
In 2020, Bears president Ted Phillips pitched the idea of a sports betting lounge in Soldier Field on game days, WBEZ reported, a space the organization could monetize through advertising revenue even if physical bets weren’t allowed to be placed in the lounge. The Bears offered 20% of that advertising revenue to the Park District, but superintendent Michael Kelly responded to Phillips that “it would not be productive to pursue the opportunities outlined in your letter,” WBEZ reported. This past June, Phillips rounded back in an email and called it "disappointing" the Park District failed to discuss the revenue opportunity, WBEZ reported.
The Bears’ rift with the Park District regarding a sports betting lounge is in no way tied to the organization exploring a possible move out of Soldier Field, a team spokesman told WBEZ recently.
In June, the Bears announced they had formally placed a bid on Arlington International Racecourse, a 326-acre property up for sale in the northwest suburb of Arlington Heights. It opened the window for the team to explore a potential future away from Soldier Field.
The Bears' current lease with the Chicago Park District to play at Soldier Field runs through 2033. The team could potentially buy out the remainder of that lease to leave its lakefront home before the expiration. Arlington Park has been approved to accommodate a football stadium, the Tribune previously reported.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot has called the Bears’ bid on Arlington Park a “negotiating tactic” to get what they want at Soldier Field.
Click here to read WBEZ’s story with full details.