The Chicago Bears have called Soldier Field home since 1971 and Mike Ditka would prefer it stays that way. Ditka, who was the head coach of the Bears during their heyday at Soldier Field, is sold on the franchise keeping Soldier Field their home and not leaving the city of Chicago.
"The Chicago Bears belong in the city of Chicago," Ditka told the Daily Herald last week. "That's it. Call me an old-timer, call me a traditionalist, whatever. They're a Chicago institution, and that should be the end of it."
The Bears are considering a move to Arlington Heights as the village board approved a zoning change last week, a significant step in the franchise relocating to the suburb. The Bears also announced a partnership with Churchill Downs, the company that owns the land. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot believes the franchise is just trying to get the city to help pay for the needed renovations to Soldier Field.
"The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033," Lightfoot said earlier this month. "In addition, this announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvements at Soldier Field. This is clearly a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before."
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In addition toward Chicago potentially building a new stadium, all options are on the table regarding a new facility. If the city wishes to be the host site for a Super Bowl, a stadium with a roof would have to be a prerequisite. That would be a major mistake according to Ditka, ruining the home-field advantage Chicago has in the NFC North.
"You want to tell me that a team coming up from a warm-weather climate isn't giving away a significant advantage to try and play in cold and rain outside in a Chicago December or January," Ditka said. "You can't practice for that kind of weather. You can't simulate it. You've got to be in it.
"Chicago Bears football weather is a great part of the team's legacy, and all of that legacy in Chicago in my life has been outdoors."
If Ditka had his way, the Bears would remain in the stadium they're playing in. Renovations need to be made, but Soldier Field underwent a remodeling in 2003. With the lease lasting another 12 years, the Bears appear willing to get out of it -- no matter how unpopular the decision is with the city of Chicago or its legendary former coach.