Chicago’s Mayor Is Ready To Help Bears Ownership In A Fight To Keep The Team

Bears Ownership Has An Agreement To Buy Property In Arlington Heights.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is not yet ready to concede that her city will lose the National Football League’s Chicago Bears franchise to nearby Arlington Heights. The Bears franchise ownership 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 also an area 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. That won’t happen before 2023 at the earliest. 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 ownership could have available in Arlington Heights.

Lightfoot was asked about Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes suggesting his village of slightly more than 75,000 people could provide tax dollars to help fund a stadium-village at Arlington Park. Hayes said Arlington Heights can give tax incentives as part of an economic development plan in the event Bears ownership wants to move to Arlington Heights but using public money would be “a last resort.” The NFL though is getting public money in Orchard Park, New York for a Buffalo Bills stadium and may get public dollars in Nashville for a new Tennessee Titans stadium. Lightfoot seems to have suggested Bears ownership might do better with a government handout from her than in Arlington Heights.

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