Andy Masur: Please welcome your Chicago (Arlington Heights) Bears!!

Bears

Horses compete in the Arlington Million race at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Arlington Park is in its final year of racing. It’s owner is looking to sell the 326-acre park and there should be at least one, if not two, Chicago sports owners looking to buy and do it now. Thankfully one of them just told us that they are in the bidding for the land. The Chicago Bears. This is the franchise that SHOULD be looking at this as a viable place to move the franchise. 

The Bears spent a total of 660-million dollars on it and basically wasted all of it. Moving out would have been the best thing for everyone. The Park District still runs things and the playing surface is an absolute joke. Late November and December, it’s green paint on dirt. Looks terrible and plays even worse. A move to the suburbs would take the Park District out of the equation and field turf could be installed. Easier upkeep, safer than dirt. 

When the team moved into the “Spaceship to be named later” they ensured that there will never be a Superbowl at Soldier Field or in Chicago. Since the NFL started using cold weather cities, the Bears home stadium would have been a great showcase for Chicago and the league. Not going to happen now. Under the NFL rules to host the big game, a stadium must have at least 70,000 seats to host a Superbowl. The Bears actually LOST 5,000 seats in the renovation and have just a 61,500 capacity. Money out the window. A big lack of vision. 

This next statement might seem blasphemous, but  hear me out. The Bears would have been best served to build a state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium. That would have helped the city attract the NCAA, for a regional final or the Final Four. I know, “Bear weather, woof woof”, it’s RETRACTABLE, meaning you can keep it OPEN during football games. Dual purpose, to keep all parties happy.  Just because it opens, doesn’t mean it has to, am I right? Get the big events here, keep the big events here. Money, money, money! 

I know, they are the CHICAGO Bears, not the Arlington Heights Bears. Ok, well then they’re the East Rutherford, NJ Jets/Giants, The Santa Clara 49’ers and the Miami Gardens Dolphins. Seriously? We’re going to quibble over a name? They need to move, stop with the silliness. 

My feelings about keeping the team in the city were much more passionate until I saw what was done to Soldier Field. For the money they spent, a brand-new building could have gone up in Rosemont, or Arlington Heights, or on the south side. In 2021, they’d be renovating it to keep up with the times and probably spending a lot less for the upkeep. Silly mistake. Build it big, make it opulent, make a statement and they will come to Arlington Heights. Oh, and out of towners will still make their way to the city and spend some dollars, so don’t worry about that. Think about the tailgating lots that could dot the landscape of the huge plot of land. You’d still have all the comforts of the old place, in a better, more fan friendly environment. 

Here’s another good reason to move. Getting in and out of Soldier Field, both as a fan and a driver is ridiculously insane. Egress that funnels you into Lake Shore Drive with no place to go. Sometimes the ride to and from adds up to the time spent watching the game. Now, I realize Arlington Heights isn’t perfect, but with some major highways and roads leading into the complex, it has to be better. 

Now there is the giant elephant in the room that has to be addressed. Who’s paying for it? Well since I don’t have the details on that and since the move isn’t official yet, let’s see how it plays out. Taxpayers are likely to be footing some of the bill, it would be really nice if the McCaskey Family realized the mistake it made in 2003 and pours most of, if not all the money in. We know that isn’t going to be happening, but at least this is a start, right? 

What to do with Soldier Field? The Chicago Fire recently moved back to the facility and there are a number of events held there during non-football time. I’d love to see the White Sox move there. It would be a gutting of what is there now and if the lords of baseball allow it (MLB), have the skyline pop out of the outfield and make it one of the best views in the sport. The Cubs aren’t going anywhere, so it’s a perfect opportunity for the White Sox to still be true to their south side roots and erect a state-of-the-art park of their own. Just a thought. 

We can sort out what will occupy that land on the lakefront later, but right now my message to the Bears: Pack up and don’t look back. It’s time for the franchise to reach new heights in Arlington Heights.

Originally posted at https://andy-masur.blogspot.com/2021/06/please-welcome-your-chicago-arlington.html

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