Can Chicago host a second NFL team at Soldier Field in place of the Bears?

Can Chicago host a second NFL team at Soldier Field? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The inevitable departure of the Chicago Bears from Soldier Field rests with Bears fans. The gears are starting to turn around the new stadium in Arlington Heights.

The group announced Thursday its plan to host an informational meeting at John Hersey High School on Sept. 8 about the “potential purchase and potential development of Arlington Park.”

Soon, the city will be left with a stadium without a dome and a tenant at the base (Chicago Fire).

Could the city bring in another tenant to replace the Chicago Bears?

“If I were the city, I’d let the Bears out of their lease for free,” Ken Davis said on The Rush with Tony Gill. “On one condition — you don’t stop me from bringing an AFC team.”

There are two cities in the country that have two NFL teams. New York (Giants and Jets) and Los Angeles (Rams, Chargers) each have two NFL teams in their respective cities. Chicago is the third largest city in America behind those two, so it makes sense to have another NFL team in town if you so desire.

Could the Bears become the third city to have two NFL tams?

One could point to a small market team in the NFL looking to maximize franchise value elsewhere, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That’s exactly what the Rams did in 2015. They moved from a small market (St. Louis) to one of the largest cities and sports markets in the country (Los Angeles).

In Chicago’s case, it would be a smoother transition for any team looking to move. Instead of a team having to pay for a stadium at its new location — as the Rams did by spending $5 billion on SoFi Stadium — they could use existing Soldier Field.

Back in late July, Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a three-pronged plan to renovate Soldier Field. The basic idea was to build a dome over the field to maximize the stadium’s use for year-round events and convince the Bears to move away, thus costing the city valuable profits.

Another option envisions turning the stadium into a “multi-use” arena, primarily for soccer’s tenant — the Chicago Fire.

The third option, on the other hand, aims to make the field “ready”. The choice turned a few heads. What does “ready dome” mean?

“There are a lot of cities that have two NFL teams,” Lightfoot said when unveiling the city’s plan to renovate Soldier Field.

Lightfoot plays hardball with the Bears. The city is trying to make Soldier Field move-in ready, all any team has to do is sign a lease and move in, and maybe build a dome if they want.

However, it is not that simple. Any relocating team needs a valid reason to leave their current location — which cannot lead to revenue. They also need 75% of the votes from the league members.

Article 4.3 requires prior approval by the affirmative vote of three-fourths of the member clubs before the club may transfer its franchise or venue to a different city either within or outside its existing territory.

The idea itself seems plausible. Any team looking for a change of scenery has a place to stay in Chicago. All they have to do is understand the semantics and navigate to Bear territory.

There have been no recent discussions of teams wanting to relocate, although some should be interested in the concept. But the expansion has been talked about around the NFL. They have already shown their interest in going international with matches in Europe and Mexico.

If the NFL wanted to expand the league, why not put another team in one of the biggest sports markets in the country? Chicago has the ability to hold two NFL teams. The city has set itself up to welcome a new team if the Bears leave.

Even if the city doesn’t attract another NFL team to rent Soldier Field, it will likely compete with the Bears for business. If the city can find the funds to build a dome over Soldier Field, it could attract events away from the Bears’ new stadium.

The Bears will likely build a dome or retractable roof at a new stadium for the same business reasons the city would with Soldier Field. But why would an event want to rent in Arlington Heights when they could go downtown Chicago?

The city could steal concerts, NCAA tournament games, WWE matches, etc. away from the Bears and her field. All they need to do is find the funding to put a canopy over Soldier Field, which is easier said than done.

The Bears created an extremely difficult situation for the city of Chicago when they announced that the organization had signed away the rights to Arlington Park in September.

Could the city fight back with a clever counterpunch?

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