CHICAGO - Rumors are swirling that the Chicago Bears could be eying a new home outside city limits.
Crain’s Chicago Business reports the Bears are considering the site now occupied by Arlington International Racecourse. The site is for sale and likely to be demolished.
So, are the Bears actually interested in relocating or are they using it as a bargaining chip to get the City of Chicago to improve Soldier Field?
Neither the team nor Mayor Lori Lightfoot have denied the report, while the Mayor of Arlington Heights is enthusiastic about welcoming the Bears.
"Certainly, the Arlington Park site is available and we would consider the Chicago Bears a great fit for that particular site," Mayor Tom Hayes said.
Hayes said while the Bears have not reached out to him about taking over the massive site now occupied by the Arlington Park race track, he says it's an ideal location for the team because of its large footprint, proximity to major highways and on-site Metra access.
"I think the Bears are seriously considering it because it's such a unique piece of property," Hayes said. "It has so much going for it in terms of its location in the northwest suburbs where a lot of their audience is."
Mayor Lightfoot admits she did have a conversation with Bears ownership over the last couple weeks, during which the team inquired about changes to Soldier Field.
"It’s a great, iconic site," Lightfoot said. "But it’s a challenging site, and I think it’s incumbent on us as a city to step up and look at ways in which we can make sure that the Bears fans, but also the Bears as an organization, have the best opportunities to maximize the fan experience and, of course, maximize revenues."
Lightfoot didn't shed light on the nature of the Bears' requests, but implied the team isn't going anywhere.
"The Bears have a lease with Soldier Field until 2033 and the NFL doesn't let any teams break their leases," she said.
But Arlington Heights' Mayor--also a lawyer--won't rule out the possibility.
"I know there's contracts involved and lease agreements," Hayes said. "But a good attorney will tell you, you can always get out of those. There might be a significant price involved, but I would think if they wanted to make it happen, they could make it happen."
In response to multiple requests for comment, the Bears have only told FOX 32 they're "focused on safely returning fans to Soldier FIeld."