Why bears might explore a possible move to Arlington Heights – NBC Chicago


The Chicago Bears flirted with the idea of ​​potentially researching a site for a new stadium, but the team stepped things up on Thursday when they announced they had submitted an official offer to buy the International Racecourse from Arlington.

The site, located in Arlington Heights, has been rumored to have been on the Bears’ radar for some time now, but it’s the biggest step yet the team has taken to potentially leave Soldier Field, and even the city ​​of Chicago behind.

Of course, Chicago sports fans probably aren’t surprised by what could be seen as a perceived threat to relocate. The Chicago White Sox made great strides towards relocating to Florida in the 1980s before receiving funding to build a new stadium on the south side of Chicago, and even the Bears have toyed with the idea of ​​moving before. , exploring a move to the suburbs in the 1980s and early 1990s before making a deal that would see them renovate Soldier Field.

Even still, there are certainly reasons the team would consider moving. The first and most obvious is the club’s limited capacity at Soldier Field. With a listed capacity of 61,500, the Bears have the smallest stadium in the NFL, as well as very limited opportunities to expand that capacity, should the need arise.

Limited capacity is also one of the reasons the Bears are highly unlikely to have the opportunity to host a Super Bowl, the crown jewel of the NFL calendar. Reportedly, the NFL is requiring stadiums to accommodate at least 70,000 fans for the game, which the Bears would struggle to do with the stadium’s current layout.

The weather, of course, is another factor, as the NFL has historically been reluctant to attribute the game to stadiums in cold climates that do not have a retractable or permanent roof. Minneapolis, Detroit, and Indianapolis have all hosted Super Bowls, but all three stadiums have one thing in common: weather control.

The closest to the NFL recently came to a cold-weather Super Bowl playing the game in New Jersey, where the average high temperature in February is 42 degrees. In Chicago, the average temperature in February is 35 degrees, and if you add unpredictable winds and snow along the lake, the league would likely miss out on any opportunity to host the game at Soldier Field.

Adding a roof to a stadium could also attract other big events, such as the College Football Playoff Championship Game, which is to be played in Indianapolis in January, and the Final Four, which has been held at several stadiums in Midwestern football including Ford Field, US Bank Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium.

While there are certainly advantages to a suburban stadium, there are a number of disadvantages, including the distance from Chicago. A trip from Soldier Field to Arlington International Racecourse is 31 miles away, and on a game day, it would likely take Chicagoans at least an hour to head northwest.

The racetrack is accessible via the Metra trains, as it’s located on the UP-Northwest line, but it would be much further for Bears fans in the city and the southern suburbs to travel to catch a game.

There would also be questions as to whether the site would have sufficient acreage for parking spaces and hotel and retail options.

Traffic in and out of the area could also be a potential issue, as fans would likely need to take Route 53 north of Interstate 90 and then use Euclid Avenue, a four-lane street, to access the stadium and parking lot. .

It’s unclear at this time when a winning bid for the property will be chosen, but the Bears’ decision to make a formal bid for the location indicates how serious they are about determining the location and structure. . , from their home in the future.

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