Report: Bears can affordably break their Soldier Field lease in 2026

This photo shows a view of the newly ren
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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.

17 responses to “Report: Bears can affordably break their Soldier Field lease in 2026

  1. It would be fun if there was some sort of class action lawsuit that resulted in teams having to name themselves after where they ACTUALLY play.

    Jets, Giants I’m looking at you.

  2. I think there is a very good chance the Bears move to Arlington Heights. By time they get the property, design the building etc etc, it will be over 18 months until they break ground. Then by time it is done, it will be at least 2026, maybe 2027, then the penalty impact will be insignificant. The Bears would increase their profits by at least $80 million first couple of years. Let it be known that the Bears left Chicago under Lightfoot administration.

  3. If I am a Bears fan I want the god awful McCaskeys to finally sell so a real owner can get in there and save the fantastic and iconic Soldier Field. Killer sight lines, all the media boxes are above the crowd which makes it one of the noisier stadiums in football and who doesn’t want to tailgate on Lakeshore Drive?

    Arlington Heights is god awful suburban/sprawl hell. Why?

    The McCaskeys are just cheap and have proven to be awful for decades unable to even find 1 qb. Just awful.

  4. Anyone think they just have $84 million sitting around? Well, they do have 5 years to scratch together some coin. Building a new stadium, I believe the owners have a fund where other teams help fund construction as well (due to increased revenue). Don’t think I see other owners paying to break a lease.

  5. For fans’ interest, it’s more important for the McCaskys to sell the team than just moving to a new stadium. New ownership over new venue.

  6. I don’t care what kind of entity you’re talking about, $84M is never an insignificant amount of money.

  7. The current mayor and her immediate predecessor have crippled the city. It’s in a ruinous collapse like it was in the 70’s. Everyone sees it.

    The Bears were looking to jump to Arlington 20 years ago. Ohare is nearby. When they altered Soldier Field in the early 2000’s with the spaceship it shrunk the stadium capacity to just over 61K which is too small for the Bear fan base. The altered stadium kicked Soldier Field from the National Register of Historic Places. It’s unfortunate that the politicians in Chicago have not held the City together. In Arlington the Bears could easily have 80k seats and fill it and build future fans.

  8. New stadiums are disposable commodities. Whatever they build in Arlington will be abandoned in 20 years.

  9. Bears need to relocate to Gary, Indiana like they were contemplating in 1996. That would be a perfect fit.

  10. I hope it’s not partially tax payer funded.
    Let the PSL holders, team, and private investors pay for it.

  11. Every time I see someone mention the mayor Its like a giant spotlight screaming I don’t know what Im talking about .

    The Bears could buyout the lease but the messier this thing gets the harder it will be for them to get taxpayer dollars of any kind. The new stadium would not be outside of the county so Chicago would still have serious influence. The county raised minimum wages years ago but the rich suburb of Arlington opted out of doing it and so what are they gonna sell this project as other than a way to make millionaires more money ?

  12. Leave. If it makes financial sense to play in Arlington, then that’s where the team should play. Mooching off the public needs to stop.

  13. Everyone thinks that paying $250 for a share of Packers stock that you can never re-sell is silly, but because we own the team and because the bylaws (approved by us) require us to approve any plan to move the team outside the city limits of Green Bay, this is nothing we’ve ever had to worry about. #beardown

  14. They have the worse stadium in the league in what should be a flagship franchise. The mistake by the lake was a bad idea from day one and of course they should look to move ASAP. Hopefully they won’t charge the taxpayers, doubt it though.

  15. Tired of RICH sports owners telling cities what to do. Lwet them move and pay for it themselves.

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