Alderman Cardenas proposes ordinance to allow city to buy Chicago Bears

Latest efforts to keep the NFL team from moving to Arlington Heights

Alderman George Cardenas (12th Ward Chicago, Getty)
Alderman George Cardenas (12th Ward Chicago, Getty)

In an effort to keep the Chicago Bears in the city, Alderman George Cardenas has proposed a city ordinance that would allow the city to buy teams and sell shares to fans, Illinois News Today reported.

The Bears announced in September that the team had signed a sales contract for the entire Arlington Park in Arlington Heights that formerly housed the Arlington International Racecourse. If the team leaves Soldier Field, it will have to pay a substantial fine for terminating the lease agreement early.

The team’s president and CEO Ted Phillips said the purchase and sale agreement for the racecourse in Arlington would allow the team “to further evaluate the property and its potential.”

The decision to move came after conflict brewed between the team and its current landlord, the Chicago Park District. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she wanted the Bears to stay in the city and would work with the team to address their concerns, “but, I’ve got to do it in a way that is fiscally prudent and doesn’t preclude other uses in that stadium.”

The proposal from Alderman Cardenas is similar to the structure for the Green Bay Packers, which is the only publicly owned franchise in the NFL.

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In addition to the team’s contract to purchase the Arlington Heights property, the new proposal would also have to overcome some other potential hurdles. The first of those is that the team’s current owner Virginia McCaske hasn’t indicated that she is looking to sell the team, which was most recently valued at more than $4 billion.

The proposal still needs to pass the city council and be accepted by the team in order for the ordinance to go through.

The team’s lease at Soldier Field continues through 2033, meaning the team will have to pay $84 million to the city to break it. Mayor Lightfoot said there were no plans to release the team from their lease early just because they were dissatisfied with it.

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[INT] — Victoria Pruitt