The Chicago Bears are considering the possibility of leaving Soldier Field and moving to a new stadium in the northern suburbs of Chicago. If they do, they will lose $86 million over the next 5 years due to their lease with Soldier Field.

The Chicago Bears will lose $86 million if they break their lease with Soldier Field in the next 5 years. If this happens, the team will move to one hour north of Chicago.

There’s beef in Chicago. It isn’t the delectable Italian beef used in Chicago’s renowned sandwiches. This isn’t a petty spat between wealthy NFL owners and powerful municipal officials. A feud that has the potential to tear the heart out of die-hard Bears supporters. 

The Chicago Bears are one of the most famous teams in American history, being one of just two NFL founding members still in existence (the other, the Phoenix Cardinals, started in Chicago as well). Their 1,000-game run started in Decatur, Illinois in 1920. A year later, they relocated to Chicago and began playing at Wrigley Field.

The Bears relocated to their present home in historic Soldier Field in 1971, and have stayed there for the last 50 years. That should bring the tale to a close. Unfortunately, it’s up to millionaires and power-hungry politicians to force the Bears out of Chicago after a century.

What is the status of the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field lease?

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears football team, photographed from Burnham Harbor in Chicago, Illinois

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears football team, photographed from Burnham Harbor in Chicago, Illinois Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, is located behind Burnham Harbor in Chicago, Illinois | Getty Images/Raymond Boyd

What makes the Bears want to relocate to the suburbs? According to Huddle Up, the answer is money. Soldier Field is the NFL’s smallest stadium, despite being ancient and magnificent. To add insult to injury, the Bears have had three new stadiums built since 2000, each with a billion-dollar price tag. Here are several examples:

  • Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium ($5.5 billion)
  • Allegiant Stadium ($1.9 billion) in Las Vegas
  • Jersey’s MetLife Stadium ($1.7 billion)
  • Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium ($1.5 billion)
  • Arlington, TX’s AT&T Stadium ($1.48 billion)

Being outbillionaire is the one thing that all billionaires despise. The Bears’ primary owners, the McCaskey family, revealed in June that they had made an offer to buy the Arlington International Racecourse, a piece of land 30 miles north of Soldier Field and outside Chicago city limits.

They completed the transaction in September for approximately $197 million. The Village of Arlington Heights officially authorized zoning of the land for a football stadium in order to entice the Bears and their money.

Politicians in Chicago get engaged.

According to @ByScottPowers, the Chicago Bears have agreed to buy the Arlington International Racecourse property.

The Bears’ June proposal was described by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as a “negotiating strategy.”

The team’s lease at Soldier Field extends through 2033, and breaking it before then would cost $84 million.

— September 29, 2021, Front Office Sports (@FOS)

This clearly did not sit well with Chicago municipal officials. Officials in Chicago have been talking with the Bears about Soldier Field renovations and repairs, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot confronts a tough balancing act.

On the one side, she has an enraged NFL team that wants the city to spend millions of dollars upgrading an out-of-date stadium that has tens of thousands of loyal supporters. On the other side, if she provides a wealthy owner too much public money, she may face criticism from taxpayers. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago taxpayers are still paying off a $632 million bond issued in 2003 for stadium renovations.

According to rumors, the Bears’ purchase of the Arlington Heights property caught Mayor Lightfoot off surprise during talks. This may explain her enraged remark, which caused a stir in Chicagoland: 

While her dissatisfaction is understandable, it did not sit well with the Bears’ management. According to reports, the Bears have postponed a meeting with the Mayor and have refused to reveal their conditions for remaining at Soldier Field. 

Soldier Field has a bleak future.

Both sides seem to be digging in their heels at the moment, and the future is unclear. The Bears’ lease is set to expire in 2033. According to Huddle Up, breaking it would cost them at least $86 million. Furthermore, even if they terminated their contract and announced their departure, the Bears would have to play at Soldier Field for a few years while the new stadium is being constructed. 

The $85 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money needed to construct a new stadium. As previously said, a new stadium would cost at least $1.5 billion, if not more. Is the cost and ill will associated with leaving Chicago proper worth it? 

No one appears to know right now. Although the talks are still in their early stages, the stakes have been substantially increased. Grab some popcorn and settle down to watch the drama for the time being. 

RELATED: A Woman in the Crowd Was Surprisingly Killed at the Colts Stadium

The soldier field renovation 2021 is a potential move that the Chicago Bears may make in order to be closer to their new stadium. If they do, it will cost them $86 million over the next 5 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Bears break Soldier Field lease?

Yes, the Bears can break their lease with Soldier Field.

What will happen to Soldier Field if the Bears move?

If the Bears move, Soldier Field will likely be demolished and rebuilt.

How much is the Bears lease at Soldier Field?

The Bears lease at Soldier Field is $1.2 million a year.

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