Leverage, that is what the Bears owners have.
The business of the National Football League’s McCaskey family-owned Chicago Bears franchise has gotten a little more interesting. The Bears franchise has an agreement to buy the Arlington Park racetrack land parcel from the Churchill Downs’ business arm for $197.2 million. The Arlington Heights, Illinois property has more than enough room for not only a stadium but a business village as well complete with housing, retail and office space. But the Bears-Churchill Downs agreement is not set in stone. The purchase and sales agreement needs to be signed. The present Bears-city of Chicago Soldier Field deal ends in 2033. Should the Bears franchise owners decide to stay in the city, the Churchill Downs property is great leverage in talks with Chicago to get a better Chicago stadium deal. There is no way the Bears ownership is leaving the Chicago area so it will be the classic stadium leverage game, in this case how can the city of Chicago give Bears ownership a better deal than what the Bears could have available in Arlington Heights.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is also concerned about the state of the Bears business and how the team’s present home might need some upgrades. Lightfoot is not too thrilled with the Bears business deal, thinking it is a negotiating tactic trying to gain some leverage in the talks with the city. Lightfoot is not happy with the on-field product and added “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.” Lightfoot owns a Bears season ticket. The McCaskey family wants a more modern facility than the one the team uses which in the stadium was rebuilt 19 years ago. McCaskey’s Bears franchise is one of the most valuable sports businesses on the globe with or without a new stadium.
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