For all his flaws, I’ll give NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell credit for this: The man sure knows how to make a buck.
And when it comes to new NFL stadiums, recently erected buildings have become a cash cow.
So, unsurprisingly, Goodell continues to nudge the door open for a Bears departure to the suburbs:
Roger Goodell to @670TheScore on the Bears' bid for Arlington Park: "We have a long lease at Soldier Field. It's a great place. But we're all looking to the long term and trying to look at alternatives and that's what the Bears are doing."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) June 23, 2021
Goodell chooses his words wisely here. He was sure to praise Soldier Field and mention the Bears’ current lease. But he also offers up “we’re all looking to the long term” and mentions having eyes on alternatives. That’s not unexpected from a person in Goodell’s position. The Commish needs to make things appear as if they’re on the level, while also leaving escape routes should better alternatives pop up. However, his messaging is clear. He won’t stand in the way the Bears leaving Chicago if an alternative presents itself.
But on top of all that, it’s Goodell’s use of the royal “we” piquing my interest.
That Goodell says “we’re” looking long term suggests he also has eyes on the Bears moving into a new stadium. And why wouldn’t he? Again, Goodell’s top task as commissioner is to line the owners’ pockets with money. He has done a good job of that over the years. Moreover, Goodell has seen six new stadiums pop up since 2010. New homes for the Raiders (2020), Rams/Chargers (2020), Falcons (2017), Vikings (2016), 49ers (2014), and Giants/Jets (2010) are sparkling facilities that have drawn praise throughout the league. So Goodell has an idea of how valuable a new building can be.
Forbes estimates the NFL lost more than $5 billion worth of revenue by playing without fans in the stands in 2020. The Bears were in the top half of teams hit the hardest, losing out on $166 million of team stadium revenue. It’s the 12th most among teams last year, which says a lot considering Soldier Field’s capacity limitations. So, in that vein, it’s easy to imagine Goodell’s eyeballs popping out of their sockets like a cartoon when thinking about the revenue that could be made if the Bears were in a new stadium they owned.
All in all, the Bears deserve one of their own state of the art facility. No arguments here. And the commissioner seems willing to facilitate things. But we still have a ways to go before we get to that point. Nevertheless, hearing Goodell chime in tells me this situation is worth keeping tabs on.