NFL commissioner on possible Bears move: 'Potentially an alternative'

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday noted the Chicago Bears have a long-term lease at Soldier Field, but he said a move to Arlington Heights is "potentially an alternative."

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday noted the Chicago Bears have a long-term lease at Soldier Field, but he said a move to Arlington Heights is "potentially an alternative." Associated Press, 2015

 
 
Updated 6/23/2021 7:20 PM

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday characterized the Chicago Bears' interest in a move to Arlington Heights as a possible long-term "alternative."

The head of the league made his first public comments about the Bears' bid for the 326-acre Arlington Park property during a Wednesday afternoon radio interview on WSCR 670-AM The Score.

 

Goodell was responding to a question from host Danny Parkins about where he thinks the team's future may be -- at Chicago's Soldier Field or in Arlington Heights.

"I don't know the answer to that question other than to know this is a really early stage to develop potentially an alternative," Goodell said. "But I think a lot has to be done here. I know their commitment to the Chicago area is 110%, and that's the most important thing for me. But listen, we have a long lease at Soldier Field. It's a great place. But we're all looking to the long term and trying to look at alternatives, and that's what the Bears are doing.

"But I think for fans right now, I wouldn't be focused on that. There's a lot that has to go into this. Right now, let's enjoy the '21 season. A lot of excitement for the Bears."

The team announced last Thursday that it submitted a bid for the sprawling site at Wilke and Euclid roads owned by Churchill Downs, Inc. Team President CEO/Ted Phillips said the team's offer is part of "our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we're doing what's best for our organization and its future."

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On Tuesday, the Bears added more fuel to long-held speculation of an Arlington Park relocation, revealing the team had inked a sports gambling partnership with Churchill-owned Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

The prospect of a move to the suburbs has rankled Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who accused the team of using the Arlington Park bid as a "negotiating tactic" amid ongoing discussions over improvements at Soldier Field. The team has a lease at the park district-owned lakefront stadium until 2033, and if the Bears break it, they'd have to pay a costly penalty.

Goodell's comments on a possible Bears move came at the end of an interview during The Score's 24-hour "What About Chicago Radiothon" in support of Austin Harvest, a food mart in the city's Austin neighborhood that was converted from a liquor store.

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