The Chicago Bears take another step towards leaving Soldier Field in search of another stadium

The Bears have played at Soldier Field, the smallest-capacity stadium in the entire NFL, since 1971.

LAKE FOREST — Los Chicago Bears took another step towards abandoning the historic Soldier Field.

The Bears announced this Sunday that they signed a sale agreement for 197.2 million dollars with Churchill Downs Inc. for the 326 acre property of Arlington Park, in the suburb of Arlington Heights.

“Finalizing the agreement was a critical next step in continuing our exploration of the property and its potential,” said the president and CEO of the Bears, Ted Phillips, it’s a statement. “Much work must be completed, including working closely with the Village of Arlington Heights and the surrounding communities, before closing this transaction.

“Our goal is to chart a path forward that allows our team to shine on the field, Chicagoland prosper in this endeavor, and the organization of Bears make sure you have a strong future. We will never stop working to offer fans of the Bears The best experience. We will continue to provide news regarding our progress at the appropriate time. “

In a separate statement, Churchill Downs Inc. He noted that he anticipates closing the deal in late 2022 or early 2023.

The Bears have played in Soldier Field since 1971 and have a lease that runs through 2033. The stadium accommodates up to 61,500 fans, the smallest capacity in the city. NFL. Soldier Field underwent a $ 690 million renovation following the 2001 campaign that forced the Bears to play their matches at home in the University of Illinois for the 2002 campaign.

The Chicago Tribune reported throughout the summer that Bears would have to pay $ 84 million in damages to the city of Chicago if they terminate the lease in the next five years.

The mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, said in a statement that, “We remain committed to continuing to work to retain the team in Chicago and we have informed the Bears that we will remain open to discussions. “