Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office released a statement just moments after the Chicago Bears announced a major update surrounding their potential move to Arlington Heights.
The team revealed Wednesday afternoon that they had closed on the purchase of the Arlington Park property that could eventually be home to a brand new stadium and complex.
You can read the team's full letter here.
A spokesperson for Lightfoot said news of the closure "has been anticipated for some time," but emphasized that the city is not giving up on their efforts to keep the Bears in Chicago.
"Nonetheless, all of us die-hard Bears fans, the mayor included, know and believe that the Chicago Bears should remain in Chicago," the statement read. "So, now that the land deal has closed, we have an even better opportunity to continue making the business case as to why the Bears should remain in Chicago and why adaptations to Solider Field can meet and exceed all of the Bears' future needs.
The mayor's office also pointed out that restrictions on negotiating with the team while they were going through the site-buying process were no longer an obstacle, and that the decision to move forward with the purchase could potentially be of benefit as they try to keep the Bears in Chicago.
"There is simply no doubt that the economic benefits for the team of staying in a reimagined Soldier Field significantly outweigh those gained in a move to the suburbs," the letter continued. "Due to the Bears’ legal restrictions in the pre-purchase phase, the city was unable to engage in direct negotiations with the Bears while the land was under contract. Now that the deal has been completed, we look forward to negotiating and convincing the Bears that the team’s best future remains in our beloved city of Chicago.”
The city has put forward proposals to keep the Bears in Chicago, including a massive renovation plan that would build a roof over Soldier Field, increase seating capacity and expand transit offerings to and from the lakefront.
The team has not commented directly on those proposals because of legal requirements that were included in the process of finalizing the purchase agreement with Arlington Heights officials.
The closing of the purchase does not mean that a new stadium will in fact be built, but the Bears called it an "important next step."
“There is still a tremendous amount of due diligence work to be done to determine if constructing an enclosed state-of-the-art stadium multi-purpose entertainment district is feasible,” the team said.
The Bears had reached an agreement to purchase the site last fall, and had been working with officials on finalizing details of that decision to buy the property.
Ultimately, the Bears are aiming to not only build a new state-of-the-art stadium on the property, fully enclosed with a dome, but they also intend to build a large-scale entertainment district around the venue as well, with enhanced services available via public transit to get fans to and from the stadium complex.
The Bears have said they do not anticipate requesting taxpayer funds for the stadium itself, but they may work with local and state officials on potential financing options for the entertainment district surrounding the stadium.
The Bears currently have a lease at Soldier Field through the 2033 season. The team would have to pay the city of Chicago to break that lease, but it is unclear when the Arlington Heights project would commence.