My name is Jonathan Carroll, and I’m proud to serve as your State Representative. Thank you for signing up for our email service. I hope to continue to use this newsletter as a way of consistently updating my constituents on what is going on in Springfield and around our district. The 57th District is comprised of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Glenview, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Palatine, Prospect Heights, and Wheeling. Ever since the announcement last week that the Chicago Bears have agreed to purchase Arlington Park, there’s been much talk about what this means and how this will play out. I’ve been following this story pretty closely and I wanted to share my perspective on this situation.
Despite what you may have heard, the Chicago Bears have not requested any public funding, and the purchase of Arlington Park was done entirely with their funds. The organization has not asked for anyone to build them a stadium. They also haven’t officially announced what their plans are with the land. We can all speculate that they want a new stadium, but as far as this situation goes, the Chicago Bears will call Soldier Field home for the foreseeable future.
Along these same lines, The Chicago Bears haven’t asked for any infrastructure improvements; neither has Arlington Heights or any of the surrounding communities for that matter. Until we know what the Chicago Bears are planning on doing, we don’t know what will happen.
The reality of this situation is that if the Chicago Bears want to relocate their home to Arlington Heights, it would be an incredible gain for our community. It would be incompetent not to at least hear them out. Everyone who is against this move either lives in the city or likely does not understand the benefits of a project of this magnitude. How often does an NFL team relocate? What would a Super Bowl, Final Four, NCAA Championship, concerts, and other events mean for our area’s restaurants, hotels, and vendors? Let’s face it, as much as many of us loved Arlington Park; its time has come. Even if it were to stay open, its benefits to our community wouldn’t or couldn’t even come close to what a NFL team brings to the table. I’m pretty confident that a Super Bowl (heck, even a regular-season NFL game) draws significantly more bandwidth than the Arlington Million.
While discussing this situation, some of my colleagues have filed resolutions and made claims about the Chicago Bears’ relationship with the City of Chicago and Soldier Field. The Chicago Bears don’t own any part of Soldier Field. The only financial benefit from Soldier Field the Chicago Bears get is from the ten (well, hopefully, 12 with playoff) games they host. Other than that, the Chicago Bears don’t see any financial benefits like they would if they “owned” the stadium like has been suggested. Did these same legislators defend Rosemont when Chicago used public funds to build Wintrust Arena for DePaul and eventually the Chicago Sky? How about when the Chicago Fire moved from Bridgeport to Soldier Field? Will positions change if the Chicago Bears agree to stay in Chicago and the city upgrades Soldier Field? This will undoubtedly cost money, and I’m guessing it will come from taxpayers.
On a personal note, I’ve been going to Chicago Bears games for over 35 years, including several road games. While Soldier Field is basically the same stadium since they’ve rebuilt it, other stadiums evolve. Recently, I took my son to a Bears game and became a student of the experience. Getting to Soldier Field from my Northbrook home on a good day takes around an hour, and most times, it’s more like two hours. If the Bears play a weeknight game, it takes almost three. Traffic management around the stadium is a joke, and there seems to be no real plan.
Inside the stadium, the concourses are crammed, and good luck not missing large chunks of the game if you need to use the washroom or get food. The fan experience isn’t what the Chicago Bears (or, frankly, the city of Chicago) should tolerate. Soldier Field, as it stands now, is an excellent mid-level college stadium and a terrible NFL one. This has been an issue since the stadium opened back in 2003, yet the city hasn’t lifted a finger to improve this.
If you’re in a bad business relationship, it’s in your best interest to explore alternatives. In this case, the Chicago Bears are doing what any good business does when they feel change is necessary. If the Chicago Bears do go ahead with a stadium on the Arlington Park site, they are well within their rights to do so. They have a contract with the city, allowing them to leave (with penalties). So if the Chicago Bears decide to move, agree to pay what’s owed to the city, then what exactly have they done that’s illegal or immoral?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this situation. I want to make sure I’m always representative of the voices of our district, so feel free to share your thoughts on this and any other issues.
Thank you for taking the time to read my legislative update. If you have any other policy ideas you would like to see introduced, please send them along to my Chief of Staff Mike at [email protected].