CHICAGO — Mayor Lightfoot said Friday that her team is working on a “financially compelling” plan designed to keep the Bears at Soldier Field.
Lightfoot announced that she has established a new committee to reimage Soldier Field and that section of the Museum Campus.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep the Bears in Chicago,” Mayor Lightfoot said during an interview on 670 The Score’s “Mully and Haugh” show. “We’re working on some plans to present to them that I think will make a very, very compelling financial case as to why it makes an abundant sense for them to stay in Chicago.”
The Bears, who signed a purchase agreement last year to potentially explore building a stadium at Arlington Park, have a lease at Soldier Field through 2033.
“They’re a tier-one team and a tier-one market, a tier-one audience, fan base, and I don’t think they can get that in Arlington Heights. But ultimately, the decision will be theirs,” Lightfoot said.
The team has played in four different venues throughout its history. They started at Staley Field in Decatur for their inaugural season, spent the next 50 years at Wrigley Field, then moved to Soldier Field.
In 2002, they played at Memorial Stadium in Champaign while Soldier Field was being renovated.
The mayor hinted that major renovations could be on the table in the new proposal.
“When it comes to Soldier Field, it’s not secret, I’ve said, we need to significantly enhance the fan experience. It takes too long to get there. It’s too hard,” Lightfoot said. “And if you’re on the west side of the stadium or in one of the end zones, frankly it’s a crappy fan experience.”
Lightfoot acknowledged that the window to strike a deal is closing and must be completed before the Bears sign an official contract to buy Arlington Park.
“We’ve seen a couple of proposals that are very, very interesting that really kind of re-envision Soldier Field and re-envision that area around Soldier Filed, keeping in mind the restrictions on use of park land,” Lightfoot said. “But we I think we can do this in a way that will be very economically enticing to the Bears.”
In the NFL’s third-largest market, Soldier Field is currently the smallest stadium in the league.