Jun 18, 2021 6 min read

The Bears can't afford to lose this next stadium fight

The Bears can't afford to lose this  next stadium fight

The team came up short the last time, which is why they're in this current mess.

Good morning, frents!

And Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially my own.

May all of us enjoy a day of hot grills, cold beers and getting to watch a little baseball between the day's 23th and 24th episodes of Bluey.

Thursday's results
Cubs 2, Mets 0
Astros 10, Sox 2
Sky 81, Sun 75

Today's schedule
Marlins at Cubs (7:05, Marquee)
Sox at Astros (7:10, NBCSCH)

Saturday
Sun at Sky (1, CBS)
Marlins at Cubs (1:20, Marquee)
Sox at Astros (6:15, NBCSCH)
Fire at Columbus SC (6:30, WGN)
Spirit at Red Stars (7, Twitch)

Sunday
Marlins at Cubs (1:20, Marquee)
Sox at Astros (1:10, NBCSCH)

The Bears can't afford to horse around this time

Well, will you look at that?


Almost a year after I wrote about the Bears' long history of flirting with Arlington Heights, the team has officially asked the suburb out on a date.

Even said they'd pay.

"We recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property," Bears president Ted Phillips said in the tweet heard 'round the backstretch. "It’s our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we’re doing what’s best for our organization and its future. If selected, this step allows us to further evaluate the property and its potential.”

Meanwhile, over at City Hall, Lori Lightfoot used some of her office time to fire off a statement that reminded the Bears of the Soldier Field lease that runs until 2033, boasted of her season tickets and ended with an ill-fitting cheap shot about Bears football not being relevant past October.

As good Twitter follow Jeremy Layton remarked: "This is the equivalent of a girl rejecting a guy and the guy then saying 'you’re not even that hot anyway.'"

And so it begins.

While Thursday's development spurred an entire news cycle within the span of a few hours, it's good to remember this is just the start of a multi-year drama — one that's bound to get more intense and likely a lot stupider before the first spade of dirt is turned at any location.

That's going to happen any time you threaten to uproot a team from the city it's called home for the past 100 years.

And we know it's coming, because, well, we've already suffered through this whole charade before.

The first 15 or so years of my Bears fandom started with a Super Bowl title but quickly devolved into a mishmash of playoff disappointments and Michael McCaskey's ongoing quest for a new stadium that could make the first family of football more money.

If the day's headline wasn't Mike Ditka warring with a quarterback, it was McCaskey locking horns with Richard M. Daley and threatening to move out of the city limits.

The late McCaskey kicked the tires on the Arlington site, like his grandfather before him and his brother after. He entertained proposals from Elk Grove Village and Gary, Indiana. He even got the hopes of little, old Keeneyville up for a bit.

And after it all, what did the Bears end up with?

A spaceship inside the Soldier Field columns, one that cost $660 million and couldn't even turn 20 without the team setting its sights elsewhere.

Yes, it gave the Bears a premium club and the wall of luxury suites the McCaskeys coveted.

But it kneecapped capacity, prevented Chicago from being in the running for any bigger events and confined the team to a small and inaccessible parcel of land pinned against the lake.

That's why the Bears need to nail whatever is coming next.

It certainly won't be easy. The road to a megasite development in Arlington Heights is a long one and far from guaranteed.

Funding will be an issue and a multi-year process in its own right, particularly in this political and economic climate.

The city will make its play to keep the team and other suburbs will proffer plans if Arlington Heights falls through. Heck, maybe even Keeneyville can get back in on the action.

The McCaskeys, meanwhile, will need to figure out if this is something they're actually capable of doing on their own or if they're better off packaging the team and the land for a sale that will net them billions.

(Go ahead and take that paper, fam. No, really, maybe you should.)

Whatever happens, the Bears can't settle or cut corners. The team's previous solution turned into such a mess that even a move out to the 'burbs isn't generating the type of outrage you would expect.

All 326 acres of the Arlington Heights site represent a chance to finally get this right and give the Bears one of the better stadiums in the NFL. It's an accessible piece of land without limit, an opportunity to create a forever home after a half-century of borrowing Wrigley from the Cubs and another half-century of failing to make Soldier Field a comfortable place to play.

It's a blank canvas that I would say no one could mess up, but I think we know the Bears and local politics much better than that.

On the bright side, they'll have plenty of time to plan because this process is just beginning.

Trivia
Name the first professional football team to call Soldier Field home.

News and results

Cubs 2, Mets 0: Sweep avoided

I made the above GIF for Javy Baez's swing, but Marcus Stroman's "I think I see Jeff Bezos" reaction might be even better. I can't stop enjoying it.

Anyway, El Mago's first-inning blast into the Citi Field apple were the only runs the Cubs needed to stop a three-game skid in Queens. Cubs move to 39-30 and into sole possession of first place after Milwaukee's loss in Colorado.

  • Kyle Hendricks pitched six scoreless innings and retired his last eight batters to win his seventh straight start. Neither team had a hit past the fourth inning.
  • The Cubs offense should be glad to be coming home. It went 17-for-123 (.138) against Mets pitching and scored only nine times in four games.

Next: The Cubs return to Wrigley for a three-game weekend set that starts with a rare Friday night game. Zach Davies (4-3, 4.01) gets a chance to extend his scoreless inning streak from 12 2/3 innings. The Marlins starter hasn't been announced.

Astros 10, Sox 2: Rough start in Texas

The less said about this one, the better? Dylan Cease turned in a stinker (6 ER in 3.1 IP) and Jose Altuve continued his homer-happy June with his ninth homer of the month already.

  • The loss dropped the Sox to 43-26 and gave the best record in baseball to the inactive Giants, who are 44-25.

Next: Carlos Rodon (6-2, 1.89) faces Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.98)

Sky 81, Sun 75: Four straight wins

The Sky erased an early nine-point lead to move to 6-7. They still haven't lost with Candace Parker in the lineup.

  1. Blackhawks brass allegedly refused to report sexual abuse of players when asked back in 2010. TSN
  2. Justin Fields says he's all in on the Bears' plan to start Andy Dalton. ESPN
  3. Dallas Keuchel said he has mixed emotions about returning to Houston this weekend. He starts on Sunday. NBC Sports Chicago
  4. Paul Sullivan looks at the legendary feud between Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker. Tribune
  5. Matt Nagy did a fun podcast with his hometown television station back in Pennsylvania. ABC 27

Programming note: This dad is planning on wringing all the R&R out of Father's Day as I can. See you back here on Tuesday.

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Trivia answer: The Chicago Rockets/Hornets were an AAFC team from 1946 to 1949 that went 11-40-3 over four seasons.

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