Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s preference might be for the Bears to focus more on winning and less on moving. And, hey, no argument here. But when she released her statement in the wake of news that the team was bidding to purchase Arlington International Racecourse, there was a hint of a dismissive tone. Particularly when she made reference to it as a negotiation tactic.
However, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes doesn’t it see it that way.
“I don’t think this is a negotiating tactic,” Hayes told the Chicago Tribune. “I do think the Bears are serious about this. It may not come to fruition, but I think they’re seriously considering it.”
I suppose if the Bears are seriously considering it, then it only makes sense for Arlington Heights to sweeten the pot at every turn.
For instance, the Tribune reports the property has been approved by a vote to be home to a football stadium, casino gambling, or horse-racing. That’s an interestingly specific approval. Think about it for a moment. Now we’re talking about a timeline where the team (1) put in a bid to purchase the Arlington Heights property, (2) entered a partnership with BetRivers, an operation owned by Churchill Downs (which happens to own the Arlington property), and (3) the property has been given the green light to play host to a football stadium and casino gambling. Did I mention that one of the key businessmen tying this all together is Neil Bluhm, a billionaire believed to have a possible interest in buying the Bears (should they reach the market).
I don’t believe in coincidences. Even if I did, I’d be unable to ignore everything on my plate here. Let’s be real with each other. This looks like an awfully attractive ploy from the Arlington Heights folks to pull the Bears out of Chicago. Heck, if you squint a little, you could see an angle in which the McCaskey family could sell the team and a valuable property, and go on its merry way splitting billions. But we’ve got some time before we start exploring that deeply.
And, sure, there are plenty of bridges to cross before we get to that point. However, we’re now seeing the bridges on the map. We’ll get to them eventually.