Bears Sign Purchase Agreement for Arlington Park Property amid Possible Relocation

Adam WellsSeptember 29, 2021

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03: detailed view of a Chicago Bears helmet is seen hanging on bench helmet holder in action during a game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers on January 03, 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have taken a significant step in the process of potentially leaving Solider Field. 

On Wednesday, the team announced a purchase agreement for the Arlington Park land parcel in the Village of Arlington Heights.

Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips issued a statement about the deal:

"Finalizing the PSA was the critical next step in continuing our exploration of the property and its potential. Much work remains to be completed, including working closely with the Village of Arlington Heights and surrounding communities, before we can close on this transaction. Our goal is to chart a path forward that allows our team to thrive on the field, Chicagoland to prosper from this endeavor, and the Bears organization to be ensured a strong future."

Phillips announced in June the team placed a bid on the 326-acre Arlington International Racecourse, with the hope of potentially finding a new location for the organization to set up shop. 

Per John Breech of CBS Sports, the Arlington Heights village board approved a zoning change that would allow for a football stadium to be built after the Bears made a bid on the land. 

Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in the NFL, having first opened in 1924. The stadium underwent a massive renovation in 2002, adding an enlarged concourse, new video boards, 8,000 club seats and 133 luxury suites. 

The renovations did reduce the stadium's maximum capacity from 66,944 to 61,500, however. It's the smallest stadium in the NFL by seating capacity. 

The Bears have a lease with Solider Field that runs through 2033, though Bill Ruthhart of the Chicago Tribune noted the organization can get out of the agreement in 2026 if they pay $84 million to the city. 

Ruthhart added the financial penalties for the Bears to get out of the lease decrease after 2026. 

Even though the Bears still don't have a deal in place to build a new stadium, Wednesday's announcement is a significant step if they want to leave their home of the past 97 years.