Amid the documented stand-off between the Chicago Bears and the city of Chicago lies an issue. The Bears are looking to move to the northwest suburb of Arlington Heights, while Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City of Chicago want to retain the team. Despite the disagreement, the City has an idea to keep the Bears in Chicago. They propose simply buying the team. In principle, it makes a ton of sense. However, in reality, it’s complete lunacy.
Let's consider a few problems at hand. They're not super deep, nor super hard to understand. In fact, there are three major reasons as to why the City will never buy the Chicago Bears.
We could stop this article after this solo point. Why the hell would the Chicago Bears, a franchise that hasn’t received any level of cooperation from the City on improving the area around Soldier Field, sell to the same party sending them to Arlington Heights? It's crazy. For example, would the Packers ever make a trade with the Bears that would help them? Quick answer: no. They wouldn't do that because they're rivals. In this case, the Bears and the City are rivals.
In addition, Mayor Lightfoot has been quoted saying the Bears’ threats to move were nothing more than negotiating tactics. Well, we're now two months or so removed from the team signing a purchase agreement for the Arlington Park land. It appears the Bears have every intention of leaving the city limits of Chicago and taking their talents, and ultimately revenue, with them to the northwest suburbs.
Despite some reports indicating both sides would sit down and work out negotiations, it feels like that isn't what the Bears are hoping for. Ultimately, it’s really just an empty hope that the City still possesses.
Let's have some real fun with this idea now. Although Lightfoot never said she supports a plan or would explore a plan for the City to buy the Bears, it still seems like an idea that needs to be discussed and debunked. If the feud between the Bears’ ownership and the City isn't already enough to spoil a sale, the City's finances surely will be.
Every year, publicly-traded companies, as well as cities and municipalities, file their financial statements for public record. As a writer, I come from a world of external reporting for a Fortune 500 company. This is a world that I easily can read through.
When pulling Chicago's financial statements filed for the year ending December 31, 2020, you learn a lot about their financial position. In fact, as of the end of 2020, the city of Chicago sits $28.4 billion in the red. The translation, in this case, is that the City is in no position to afford the Bears. Sure, they can get creative and offer bonds or somehow find the money as large cities tend to do, but it would only be another blemish on Mayor Lightfoot's resume as mayor.
Back in August, Forbes released valuations for all NFL teams. The Bears checked in at a whopping $4.075 billion, seventh-most amongst all NFL franchises. When the Bears eventually sell, as is the speculation about the franchise in the near future, it will make the McCaskey family a lot of money given the team's value. Why would they risk that by trying to sell the team to the City? There are plenty of billionaires who would be interested in buying the team. Who knows, maybe Jeff Bezos will buy the Bears?
Even if the Bears do eventually sell, by moving to Arlington Heights, they will own the stadium and all the land around it, bringing in astronomically more revenue than they ever would staying at Soldier Field on the lakefront. The best move for the Bears in the near future, as well as down the road with new ownership, is to venture out to Arlington Heights and build a super stadium of sorts.
There's No Chance
There is no chance, even if the city of Chicago truly wanted to buy the Bears, that the McCaskeys would sell the team to the City. The relationship between the City and the team is tarnished, hence the likely threat to leave Soldier Field and move northwest.
Between the City's finances, relationship with the team, and lack of opportunity for monetary growth, the team isn't going to be sold to the city of Chicago. We can end this thought, even as fun as an idea it is at the core.