There is an odd buzz swirling around the Bears that I can’t fully get a grasp on right now. Much of it is rooted in the idea of moving the team to Arlington Heights, a topic that has come up in conversation more often in the last year or so than you might otherwise expect. And now, this from the Daily Herald’s Jim O’Donnell, who cites “an individual with exceptional knowledge of the working dynamic within the McCaskey family” who says: “There is some internal strife going on among family members to sell … now.”
That’s certainly going to grab some eye balls – especially since there has long been a prevailing belief the team would remain in the McCaskey family so long as matriarch Virginia Halas McCaskey, now 98, was still alive. To be clear, selling the Bears doesn’t seem like something imminently on the table. But that we’re having this discussion in the first place is noteworthy.
As is O’Donnell’s trio of favorites to buy the team, each of which will raise an eyebrow for one reason or another.
For instance, 83-year-old Pat Ryan is listed as the favorite. Ryan is a billionaire businessman already on the board of directors with nearly a 20 percent share of team ownership. Some might recall Ryan as someone whose name popped up while connecting the dots to Pat Fitzgerald-Bears coaching rumors. For what it’s worth, Ryan is on Northwestern’s board of trustees. Ryan has two sons, who could figure into the ownership/executive aspect in one way or another.
Secondly, Neil Bluhm makes his way on the list. Another billionaire businessman, but one who made his bacon in the real estate and casino games. Bluhm has minority ownership stakes in the Bulls and White Sox. Also noteworthy are Bluhm’s ties to Churchill Downs, Inc., which works with him in the casino ring. That relationship could help grease the skids on a possible move to Arlington Heights.
Last, but certainly not least, is Jeff Bezos. Yes, the Amazon guy. Bezos is a popular name for fans of teams craving ownership change. Additionally, the NFL might want Bezos in on the action, too. All that reach and brand power could further strengthen the NFL’s position in the sports world. And taking a charter franchise to another level with new ownership would do just that.
Again, I don’t think the Bears are being sold soon. And, indeed, when these sort of reports and sources pop up with a story *like this*, you always have to question the motivation, timing and potentially wholly unrelated (but actually desired) outcomes. Either way, it’s now officially on our radar.