Move to Suburbs Makes Total Sense for Bears

Analysis: Bears need to make this move to Arlington Heights for an ultra-modern facility because it's where the cash is, and also where it's safer.
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It had always been you-know-what and giggles for Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot when she talked in the past about the Chicago Bears.

This was the case, that is, until Thursday's comment on the bid the team made for Arlington Heights property, specifically Arlington International Racecourse.

Oh how cute when she was coming on AM-670 the Score in the past and talking about quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with Mike Mulligan and David Haugh.

"Our quarterback has got to step up," Lightfoot said. "I'd like to see them make some pretty bold moves in the draft."

The Bears didn't even have a first-round pick in the year she said this, so it's uncertain what bold move she actually wanted in that draft. They didn't even draft in the third, fourth or sixth rounds, either.

Another time Lightfoot took her shot at Matt Nagy.

"I'd like to see Nagy's play-calling be a little less predictable and pedestrian," Lightfoot said on an NBC Sports Chicago telethon. "Running up the gut every time? Yeah, that's not working so well."

This should have been a sure tip she was merely looking to pop off rather than display actual knowledge on the topic. No one who knows a thing about the Bears or the NFL would ever accuse Nagy of "running up the gut every time." Bears fans have begged him to run more since he came here.

Lightfoot came out firing silly remarks Thursday after the very conservative, even veiled comment team CEO Ted Phillips made on the Bears putting in a bid for Arlington Park. 

"We recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property," Phillips said in a statement. "It's our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we're doing what's best for our organization and its future. If selected, this step allows us to further evaluate the property and its potential." 

That's about as non-descript and ambiguous as such things get, and it didn't even come out until two days after the bids were submitted.

Mayor Pop Off

The old offensive coordinator herself, Lightfoot, then came firing back with: 

"Our city is home to some of the world's finest sports teams who have played a vital role in the city's re-opening. As part of the city's recovery, many organizations are doubling down on their commitment to Chicago, and we expect the Chicago Bears to follow suit. The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033. In addition, this announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvement at Soldier Field. This is clearly a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before. As a season ticketholder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping 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."

It takes a great deal to make Phillips into a sympathetic figure. 

The mayor did it. Maybe she should have dialed it back a bit? That's possibly a tiny bit too strong of a response to what the Bears said but really not out of character for a mayor who loves popping off.

Supposedly, the mayor has season tickets but she must have stopped going because the Bears made the playoffs last year and 18 NFL teams did not. Maybe the Bears should look into changing those mayoral season tickets to sections 348, 427 or 447 at Soldier Field, in the back row.

Rather than use her energy on the Bears or any sports teams, what Lightfoot really needs to do is focus her attention on the simmering hell hole her city has become. 

She has failed at her job. Toni Preckwinkle would have made a far better mayor, save for the tax on soda.

According to Chicago Tribune statistics, 1,587 had been shot in Chicago  a few weeks before the year's halfway point. That's far ahead of pace needed to shatter the high mark over the last decade of 1,724 for all of calendar year 2016. There were 1,392 shot all of last year.

The Bears could have pointed to those stats or all the businesses still boarded up following riots that were predictable and preventable last year, and said they're looking at their options because this city is failing. 

They didn't. They were professional. 

Lightfoot, instead, assumed the role of jerk by popping off.

Get Out

The city and Bears haven't revealed what exact improvements are being negotiated. 

If the team actually is to remain in the flying saucer on the lake, they will need more seats. They seat only 61,500 in the facility, fewest in the NFL. 

It would really make more sense for the Bears to forget about those extra seats entirely. One improvement the Bears made at Soldier Field recently is a statue of team and league founder George Halas out front. The statue of Halas is pointing outward, away from Soldier Field. 

Halas had it right in 1975 when he threatened to move the team to Arlington Heights. His statue has it right in 2021.

There could and should be more to this threat of a move than the mayor alleges. 

After all, a member of the McCaskey family owns a pub in Arlington Heights. Think of how that could flourish with stadium development. 

Virginia McCaskey herself lives in Des Plaines, right next door to Arlington Heights. 

More Bears fans and PSL or season ticket holders can get to Arlington Heights easier than they can to Soldier Field, which is an incredibly inconvenient place. The lakefront can be nice when it's warm, but it's not easy to get there and the traffic on the way out from games in all directions is hideous.

No major Chicago pro sports team has left for the suburbs, but plenty have in other cities around the country. The Giants and Jets aren't in New York, the city or state. The Washington Football Team isn't in the nation's capital. The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers are in Inglewood, Calif.     

The Bears have made major investments over the last decade at Halas Hall in Lake Forest.  So now the best and next logical step for them would be to flee the city entirely and play their games in the wide open spaces of the suburbs.

There is real money to be made in the suburban expanse. The fans and season-ticket holders are out there, except for Lightfoot.

It's more peaceful in the suburbs. 

It's safer.

The Pride and Joy of Illinois

The entire state would benefit from having a retractable dome stadium in Arlington Heights, where a Super Bowl, an NCAA Final Four, Big Ten championship games and tournaments and even political conventions could also be held.

The original and late Mayor Richard Daley once threatened to keep the Bears from referring to themselves as Chicago Bears if they left the city for Arlington Heights, as  Halas looked into this move in 1975.

The Bears should make every effort possible to move there, and if a threat about the name of the team is made again—as the mayor seems to be suggesting in her comment—then they should refer to themselves as The Bears or Da Bears or something instead of Chicago Bears. 

Maybe, The Bears Football Team would suffice. Or, if you need a location, the Illinois Bears. 

After all, as the song says, they are "the pride and joy of Illinois" and not the pride and joy of Chicago.

There is no pride and joy in Chicago these days.

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