What if a successful shakedown can’t even keep the Bears in Chicago?

It’s been almost a year since Bears owners started Making a lot of noise about moving the team out of Chicago and to the suburbs. Last September, the team signed a buy and sell agreement with Churchill Downs Incorporated, which will hand over a 326-acre parcel of land in Arlington Heights for $197.2 million. The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field, the team’s South Side home since 1971, runs until 2033, but the team can exit that agreement by 2026, as long as it is willing to pay an $84 million termination fee to City. The construction of a new stadium in Arlington Heights will take a long time, but the runway for the team’s flight out of the city has been prepared.

bear do really want to leave? This is the question that should be asked whenever a team playing in the old stadium begins to prepare a plan to look for a new home. We’ve seen this song and dance enough times to know that the ghost of quitting is often only raised as a negotiating tactic; It’s all too easy to squeeze local government for a few hundred million dollars in renovation or new construction subsidies when a real threat could be made to play out elsewhere. This form of extortion has worked for decades, but recently an increasing number of cities are refusing to play ball. Will it be Chicago?

On Monday, we got some answers when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled three options for keeping bears in troop zones. The construction costs associated with any of the three options could range from $900 million to $2.2 billion, and although Lightfoot’s proposals didn’t specifically say where all that money would come from, it’s safe to assume that the public would be hooked. But for a fair share of the cost. Otherwise too, Here are three thoughts from ESPN,

First the stadium will be completely surrounded by rebuilding both end areas with columns that can support a dome structure.

The other would require recreating both end zones with columns to prepare the stadium for the dome.

The third option calls for modifications to make Soldier Field a multipurpose stadium that is suitable for hosting soccer games, while also making it a viable venue to accommodate major concerts and multiple events.

ESPN

We’ve seen a lot of mayors and city councils roll in over the past few decades and offer their municipal budgets to the local sports team, and Lightfoot’s effort rate is on the scale of disgrace. Being offered $2 billion to ditch an ill-fitting dome on a once-classic piece of architecture that’s already married by modern renovations? And doing it all to please the franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2010?

What makes the unveiling of these plans doubly embarrassing for Lightfoot is that his dedication doesn’t seem to have moved the needle for Bear. When the organization was asked to respond to the mayor’s proposals, it issued a similar statement to what it had already issued earlier this month:

The Chicago Bears’ only potential project for the development of a new stadium is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract. We have informed the City of Chicago that we intend to honor our contractual commitments as we continue our due diligence and pre-development activities on the Arlington Heights property.

Chicago Bears

Glass. So here we’re looking at an example of a classic stadium financing shakedown that seems to be working entirely in the Bears’ favor, yet the team can’t even bother to draft some new language, with Lightfoot’s plans. be turned into garbage. This is supposed to be the stage at which the team we’re leaving and don’t-dare-try-to-stop-us regular beds and agrees to accept what it’s always after: a free Bunch of money didn’t do anything worth it. And yet it doesn’t seem to be happening. Lightfoot played the game, and the bear still crushed him. So sad for Lori! But that’s just the way things are now.

The Bears aren’t doing anything new by attempting to move 30 miles from downtown, which is nominally their home, so they can play the game in the stadium they were gifted to and in front of a much richer (and whiter) fan . Everyone knows that the “economic impact” of a publicly funded stadium is less than zero, but one could be forgiven for expecting that so many billions of dollars in sports franchise coffers over the past several decades. All that was thrown away would be public money. purchase some, if there is even just an understanding that paying the ransom will get you the mortgage back. But man, this feels like a particularly brutal phase of access to the historically parasitic relationship between sports teams and cities. Any real bond resulting from such arrangements only extends in one direction—I have no doubt that thousands of Bears fans will be crushed if the team leaves town—and it’s not being completed fast the other way. . The Bears know what every other team knows: There’s no money in sentimentality.

And so that’s what we have left. A culture that has allowed the practice of not only subsidizing stadiums, but keeping teams in the communities that love them most, is being told that such a system is suddenly not enough. At least the people who run the security racket have the complacency not to go around burning businesses that make their payments on time.

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