As the Bears explore their options for building a new stadium in the suburbs, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said repeatedly that the team has an ironclad lease that binds them to stay at Soldier Field until 2033. But that may not be the case.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the Bears’ lease would allow them to leave Soldier Field in 2026 and pay a penalty of $84 million.
An $84 million charge wouldn’t be particularly significant if the Bears are already budgeting to build a new stadium in the suburb of Arlington Heights. A new stadium would likely cost more than $2 billion.
“The numbers associated with the Soldier Field lease are just small,” University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson said. “$84 million is just a fraction of what a new stadium will cost.”
The Bears have confirmed that they are considering buying the Arlington International Racecourse, a stadium-sized property about 30 miles from Soldier Field.