Lightfoot: Bears' bid for Arlington Park a 'negotiating tactic'
While Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes and many of his fellow suburban Bears fans welcomed news Thursday that the team put in an offer on Arlington Park, his counterpart in Chicago dismissed the bid as little more than a negotiating tactic.
"This announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvements at Soldier Field," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement issued hours after the Bears confirmed they are among the bidders for the 326-acre site in Arlington Heights. "This is clearly a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before."
The Chicago Park District-owned Soldier Field has been the Bears' home for 49 of the past 50 seasons -- the lone exception occurring during renovations in 2002 -- and the team is locked into a lease on the facility until 2033, Lightfoot noted in her statement.
"Our city is home to some of the world's finest sports teams who have played a vital role in the city's reopening," she said. "As part of the city's recovery, many organizations are doubling down on their commitment to Chicago, and we expect the Chicago Bears to follow suit."
Lightfoot said she is committed to keeping the "Chicago" in Chicago Bears.
"And like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally and being relevant past October," she said. "Everything else is noise."
While those wishing for the Bears to remain in Chicago may find hope in the years remaining on the team's lease, Hayes has said he doesn't see it as an obstacle in a potential move to the suburbs.
"Where there's a will, there's a way," Hayes said when asked about the lease in a radio interview Tuesday.