Chicago Bears Reject Liberal Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago
By Mark Schwendau
The Chicago Bears and their owners, the McCaskey family, are (apparently) moving forward with plans to build a new stadium in Arlington Heights at the site of the old horse racetrack Arlington Park. Last Thursday, the Chicago Bears held an informational community meeting to discuss the potential purchase and development of Arlington International Racecourse. They just rejected a proposal by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to stay in the city.
If this move happens, it will be a big blow to the “Windy City” of Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has offered proposals to keep the team from leaving. Her $2.2 billion dollar plans include:
Option 1: Fully enclose the lakefront stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome structure.
Option 2: Rebuild both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome ready.
Option 3: Modify Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer while improving its flexibility to accommodate major concerts and various events.
She also has proposed to expand the capacity from 61,500 to 70,000.
Lightfoot said, “An improved Soldier Field will deliver a world-class visitor experience. Furthermore, any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come, as these changes will allow us to keep bringing sports, music, and other exciting events to our city.”
The Chicago Tribune reported the Bears can break their Soldier Field lease as early as 2026 for a penalty fee of $84 million. Such a fee adds up to 150% of the remaining lease for “improper relocation” per their contract with the Chicago Park District. But this is considered small change compared to the $197.2 million the Bears paid for Arlington International Racecourse.
Still, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is working to keep the team in the City of Chicago proper.
“We’re going to continue our discussions with the league,” she said. “We’ve got Plan B, Plan C, and others in the works as well, if the Bears decide they’re going to abandon the city of Chicago.”
Lightfoot has not revealed what “Plan B” is, but she has touted the idea of a second NFL team in Chicago.
Soldier Field is a historical site in America. The Chicago Park District hired Chicago architects Holabird and Roche in 1919 to design a stadium to serve as a showcase “for events and a playground for the people.”
On October 9, 1924, the Grant Park Municipal Stadium went into service, and one year later, at the request of the Chicago Gold Star Mothers, the stadium was renamed Soldier Field. Soldier Field was last renovated in 2003 to address structural integrity concerns and add seating and additional skyboxes. That renovation did not sit well with all of the public as it took a very old historic stadium and seemingly redesigned it to be something from the space age.
Right now, the Bears organization is considering renovation options for Soldier Field from the city of Chicago. Still, there is a great appeal for them being able to call their own shots for future designs on their own property. The Bears won a bid on the Arlington Heights property last fall to leave Soldier Field and build a new stadium on their own land. They plan to close on the Arlington Heights site in early 2023.
The Raiders stadium in Las Vegas (Allegiant Stadium) cost their organization around $2 billion for their new stadium. The NFL’s newest stadium, SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, cost the Rams franchise $5 billion. Chicago lakefront falls and winters can be brutal to fans outside in the weather. Many feel an indoor stadium is about time for Chicago.
Bears fans are excited to have a new coach and manager and an unexpected and predicted first win under their belts for 2022. Fans are optimistic for the first time in a long time, thanks to all the young players starting to gel as a team.
Like acting president Joe Biden, Mayor Lori Lightfoot can be a real charmer when she is losing control of a situation. During her unveiling of the city’s possible renovations to Soldier Field last week, she said that the Bears would be “foolish” not to consider her plan for the stadium.
This story is personal to me. As a teenager, I had a job mowing the lawn of “Mugs” George Halas Jr. in Barrington (Illinois), who, at that time, was working for his father, who was the owner of the Bears team. He was serving as general manager of the Bears at that time.
At one point, doing that job, I got to meet his father, “Papa Bear” George Halas Sr., who was the owner of the Bears. Being a Christ follower, I am not one to get all star-struck, but in that moment, at a young age, I felt I was in the presence of both greatness and history. George Halas Sr. was a player before he was a coach and owner. He was a founding father to the NFL. Halas was one of two co-founders of the American Professional Football Association which today is the National Football League (NFL). The other was Christopher O’Brien, who founded the Chicago Cardinals, which would move to St. Louis (Missouri) and Arizona over time.
George Halas graduated from the University of Illinois in 1918, where he played football. He served in the U.S. Navy. In 1919, he played major league baseball with the New York Yankees.
Switching to the up-and-coming sport of professional football, Halas had seen the transition of the Bears from Decatur (Illinois) Staleys, to Chicago Staleys, to Chicago Bears. In case you were wondering, A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. of Decatur was the team’s commercial sponsor as a major producer of starch. All the early football teams had sponsors for purposes of covering costs of travel and uniforms and gear. The players were paid so little they had to have other full-time jobs to sustain themselves.
Mayor Lightfoot, like so many other Democrats of these days, needs to understand that this is as much about reputation as a revenue stream. Under Lightfoot’s leadership, Chicago is viewed as a killing field of minorities worldwide. Americans and those living abroad find this unacceptable. The team’s desire to leave Chicago is understandable, and if they do, Lightfoot will be the captain on the bridge of a sinking ship.
Major corporations such as Boeing and Caterpillar are moving their headquarters from Illinois. This should be a sign for Illinois Democrats to make a course change or for Illinois voters to vote red instead of blue this November.
Copyright © 2022 by Mark S. Schwendau
Mark S. Schwendau is a retired technology professor who has always had a sideline in news-editorial writing where his byline has been, “Bringing little known news to people who simply want to know the truth.” He classifies himself as a Christian conservative who God cast to be a realist. Mark is an award-winning educator who has published seven books and numerous peer-reviewed trade journal articles, some of which can be found on the Internet. His father was a fireman/paramedic, while his mother was a registered nurse. He holds multiple degrees in technology education, industrial management, OSHA Safety, and Driver’s Education. His personal website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech.