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Chicago’s Soldier Field Savior: Shad Khan and the Jaguars?

With the Bears likely moving to Arlington Heights, Soldier Field may be in need of a new tenant. Shad Khan’s Jaguars could make sense.

Shad Khan Jacksonville Jaguars Move Chicago Soldier Field
Photo: The MMQB/Sports Illustrated

As the move to Arlington Heights excites Chicago’s football fan base, the City of Chicago is left asking, “What do we do now?” Mayor Lori Lightfoot is throwing the kitchen sink at the Bears to get them to stay. She has published renderings of upgrades to the Museum Campus along with a $2.2 billion roof renovation. However, it still sounds like the Bears are full steam ahead on the Arlington Heights move.

Regardless of upgrades, a vacant 60,000+ seat stadium is not ideal for the local government. While the Chicago Fire may still play there post-Bears, concerts and other football games will likely move to the new state-of-the-art stadium in the suburbs.

A Second NFL Team in Chicago?

This leaves the door wide open for something that hasn’t happened in Chicago since 1959. A second NFL team. During her press conference to present Soldier Field renderings, Mayor Lightfoot even mentioned that this option is on the table.

It has been 63 years since the Chicago Cardinals played in the city. Chicago should have the capacity to host a second NFL team. The city already holds two MLB baseball teams and the NBA has the Bulls with the Milwaukee Bucks 90 mins away.

In the eyes of the NFL, the Arlington Heights stadium would give Chicagoland the 80,000+ seat venue required to host a Super Bowl. Keeping 61,000+ seat Soldier Field wouldn’t be a deal breaker in getting a second team.

The Bears would own the Arlington Heights stadium and likely would not want to do joint ownership with a second team like the New York and Los Angeles teams do. Alas, a second team would be taking a risk coming to Chicago. According to Forbes, the Bears are the eighth-most valuable franchise. The second team may be near the bottom of the list.

Putting up the money for a new stadium may not be the best financial option for a less prominent franchise. Having the City of Chicago take the burden of owning and operating the stadium could be welcomed by the new team’s ownership. A second NFL team may not be let in on the split, as is the case with the Giants and Jets. Mind you, the City will probably give all sorts of financial breaks to the tenant.

Which franchise could potentially become Chicago’s second NFL team, especially one in need of a new home? The Raiders, Chargers, and Rams all just moved to new stadiums. The Arizona Cardinals seem happy with where they are, so a potential return to Chicago isn’t likely. That leaves one obvious option: the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jaguars’ Geographic Fit

The Jaguars could be an ideal fit as Chicago’s second team. Currently, the Jaguars are the only professional team in Jacksonville. Their location is three-plus hours from Tampa and almost five from Atlanta.

Their current divisional opponents are Indianapolis, Houston, and Tennessee. A move to Chicago would bring them closer to their AFC divisional rivals.

A move out of Jacksonville would also help give Chicago football balance with one NFC and one AFC team in range. With the Bears likely vacating the lakefront, a different NFL team stepping in would help the city retain amusement revenue from hotels and other surrounding establishments.

Shad Khan

Logistical challenges and questions aside, the Jaguars’ ownership has ties to Illinois and Chicago.

Shad Khan is one of the world’s richest people, and the majority of his wealth is not from owning the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fulham F.C., and AEW. His story is pretty incredible too.

At age 16, Khan attended to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with an Industrial Engineering degree. He started and based his world-renowned auto parts supplier, Flex-N-Gate, in Urbana, Illinois. His son, who would be the heir to his company and other entities, is also based out of Urbana.

Khan does tons of world traveling, but he also has places to settle in. In addition to his homes in Urbana and Jacksonville, Khan owns a lavish apartment on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Khan selected this place in Chicago due to his love for architecture. He initially majored in architecture at Illinois before switching to Industrial Engineering upon realizing architects don’t make that much money.

Khan claims to be an architecture junkie. According to Forbes, he has a passion for Frank Lloyd Wright and other historical buildings around the city. Could Shad Khan be passionate enough about historical Soldier Field to bring the current Jacksonville Jaguars to Chicago? Only time will tell, but it’s an intriguing scenario to consider upon reviewing the aforementioned factors.

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Papa Halas
Papa Halas
21 days ago

Great article. But it is a moot point. Under NFL guidelines expansion teams in a city with a current team must be approved by the established team and they would have to share the same stadium. Chargers/Rams, Jets/Giants, Both things the Chicago bears organization would refuse to do.

Scott
Scott
20 days ago

Dumb article, he literally just spent 200mill on the start of improvements on the stadium in Jacksonville and is building a four seasons there. Do research, the jags actually outdraw the bears every season. Imaging if they were the second team in the second city

Bill
Bill
20 days ago

No chance . What a dumb move to take a pro team out of a city to give a city that already has a pro team a second pro team.

TOm
TOm
20 days ago

Absolutely not happening.
Ludicrous.

Cappy Johnson
Cappy Johnson
20 days ago

Shad Khan will never move the Jags to Chicago…Duval County is like Beverly Hills compared to the city of Chicago and Duval ain’t the safest of places to begin with. Dems have ruined football in Chi-city and Khan is not a moron when it comes to investments. He also doesn’t want his fan base to be raped, murdered, assaulted, harassed, robbed….the list goes on and on. Let’s Go Bettlejuice!

John
John
20 days ago

Pipe dream. Jaguars are not leaving Jacksonville. That rumor has been going around for too many years. First it was LA. Then London. Then Las Vegas. Now Chicago? Please give it a rest.

Noel
Noel
20 days ago

Too bad the Jaguars current stadium lease doesn’t expire until 2030. Lazy journalism.

Hilt
Hilt
20 days ago

No just no! Jags are staying in Jax.

Spuwho
Spuwho
19 days ago

Wishful thinking. Just wishful thinking. Jaguars invested millions in a new JV with the city for a hotel and entertainment district. Paid for by one game in London every year. I think Shad knows where he can get better butter for bread.

Kevin Doherty
Kevin Doherty
19 days ago

Ohh man people just won’t quit ! No matter how many times Shad has said he is not moving the team people still think he’s looking to relocate the Jags . He purchased the team under the stipulation that the Jaguars would remain in Duval. He has already made major improvements to the stadium , (swimming pools , largest scoreboards in the world (at the time) party zones etc) then he added an amphitheater which is home to the AEW , and other concert events, and an indoor practice facility for the team. Now he is building a football operations complex including team facilities and more practice fields, he’s also building an area with a sports medicine hospital, four seasons hotel, many restaurants, with retail and office space and a park. And he also has bids on other development projects with restaurants and concert venues with more hotels. He is also planning for more future renovations to the stadium including a partial roof for shade like they did in Miami. So it’s time to stop with this “Shad Khan is moving the Jaguars ” BS…..

Eric
Eric
19 days ago

Khan has sunk alot of money into jacksonvilles stadium every year and started new construction to it this year that will be done by next year and also bought property next door to build more… Khan isn’t spending millions and millions to move the team elsewhere. These anti jaguar stories from media been going on for many years… heck jaguars stadium holds two times more fans than soldier field

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