One of the most popular Bears of all time is not happy with talk that the team could leave the city of Chicago.
Mike Ditka, who was both a Hall of Fame tight end for the Bears and the only head coach to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl victory, said he opposes the Bears’ discussions of leaving Soldier Field and building a new stadium in the suburbs.
“The Chicago Bears belong in the city of Chicago,” Ditka told the Daily Herald. “That’s it. Call me an old-timer, call me a traditionalist, whatever. They’re a Chicago institution, and that should be the end of it.”
The Bears have acknowledged they are considering buying the Arlington International Racecourse in the suburb of Arlington Heights, potentially to tear it down and build a stadium in its place. Ditka dislikes that for another reason.
“Just like the Bears belong in Chicago, like Coach Halas had it, Arlington Park should remain a racetrack,” Ditka said. “It’s a gem, a thing of beauty. Arlington Heights is known around the world because of that racetrack. Racetrack in Arlington Heights, Bears in Chicago. That’s the end of it.”
Ditka said he’d be extremely disappointed if the Bears built a stadium with a roof.
“You want to tell me that a team coming up from a warm-weather climate isn’t giving away a significant advantage to try and play in cold and rain outside in a Chicago December or January?” Ditka said. “You can’t practice for that kind of weather. You can’t simulate it. You’ve got to be in it. Chicago Bears football weather is a great part of the team’s legacy, and all of that legacy in Chicago in my life has been outdoors.”
For most of the first half-century of Bears history, including Ditka’s years as a player, they were at Wrigley Field. They’ve now been at Soldier Field for another half a century. Ditka doesn’t want to see them go anywhere else.