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