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Chicago Bears submit bid to buy Arlington International Racecourse

The facility was forced to close for a couple months last year due to the pandemic, but resumed horse races in July.
Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3)...
Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)(AP)
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 3:04 PM CDT
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The rumors are true: The Chicago Bears placed a bid to buy Arlington International Racecourse.

In a tweet, Ted Phillips, Bears President and CEO said “it’s our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we’re doing what’s best for our organization.”

The facility was forced to close for a couple months last year due to the pandemic, but resumed horse races in July.

The 94-year-old race track is currently up for sale. Tuesday was the deadline for bids on the racecourse and its property. The Bears have been playing at Soldier Field since 1971. The most recent stadium renovation took place in 2003.

Last month, CBS Sports reported the team was “seriously considering” a move out of Chicago.

A Bears executive didn’t deny that the team was mulling a possible move when asked about it by Crain’s Chicago Business. The race track in Arlington Heights is about 30 miles away from Soldier Field, so Bears fans in Chicago would still be within easy traveling distance of a potential new stadium.

Even if the Bears want to move though, it’s not going to be so easy. As Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently pointed out, the team has a lease at Solider Field for at least the next 13 seasons.

“I’ve seen a couple of reports [of a possible move] but a couple of data points that I think you should be aware of are the Bears have a lease with Soldier Field until 2033 and the NFL doesn’t let any teams break their leases,” Lightfoot said.

Back in May, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes revealed the Bears were “seriously considering” a move to the site.

“I know there’s contracts involved and lease agreements,” Hayes said. “But a good attorney will tell you, you can always get out of those. There might be a significant price involved, but I would think if they wanted to make it happen, they could make it happen.”

It seems the Bears are hoping to get some renovations done at Solider Field and it’s possible they want the city to help pay for the project. Lightfoot admitted to talking to the Bears in recent weeks, but didn’t specify whether the team asked the city to help with anything.

“It’s a great, iconic site,” Lightfoot said of Soldier Field. “But it’s a challenging site, and I think it’s incumbent on us as a city to step up and look at ways in which we can make sure that the Bears fans, but also the Bears as an organization, have the best opportunities to maximize the fan experience and, of course, maximize revenues.”

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