Can Chicago support two NFL teams?
Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports

Can Chicago support two NFL teams?


by - Senior Writer -

Continuing off of the Arlington Heights talk from earlier this week, there is another question surrounding the Future of the Chicago Bears and Soldier Field. Let's say the Bears do end up leaving Soldier Field for a new state-of-the-art facility in Arlington Heights; what does that mean for the Stadium that has been located in downtown Chicago for over 50 years?

Unless the plan is to have the Chicago Fire be the lone occupants, something would have to be done to regroup from losing the team. That is where the question of having a second NFL franchise in Chicago comes up and if the market could support it.

When you look at the overall market share in the United States, Chicago is ranked the third largest market, only behind New York and Los Angeles. New York has always had two teams, and even though the Giants and Jets have been awful, they still get tons of support on a weekly basis. Los Angeles has seen teams come and go over the past 50 years, but now they have two teams anchored in the brand new So-Fi Stadium.

One of those teams, the Los Angeles Rams, are the defending Superbowl Champions, while the Los Angeles Chargers appear to be one of those up-and-coming teams that could make some noise. If those two markets can support two teams, why can't the city of Chicago? Looking at the history of the NFL, you will find the Bears all over it as they are one of the oldest franchises to play this game.

The history that comes with this organization is second to none, and there is a reason why they rank in the top two in terms of most wins of all time. Even when the team is not great, which is what they are going through right now, the fan support has always been there, as Bears fans are some of the most loyal fans on earth.

That is why when talks about moving away from Soldier Field came out, it was more of a shock than anything to Bears fans, as that was something they never expected. The reasoning behind it is simple. Chicago wants the opportunity to host a Superbowl, and the only way to do that is to build a brand new state-of-the-art facility that is either a dome or retractable.

They can't do that in Chicago, although there have been some ideas on how to make it work, so if that is the case, the Bears would have to move to make it happen. Leaving Chicago for Arlington Heights would sting, but a large portion of the NFL plays their home games in a suburb of the city, so this wouldn't be a surprise.

Should this move eventually happen, don't expect the Bears to change their name to Arlington Heights, as they would still be called the Chicago Bears. They are Chicago's team, and even if they elect to move, the fan support will still be there. However, the biggest problem associated with that would be the abandonment of Soldier Field, which would essentially be left to rot.

Sure, you have a soccer team that plays there and other events that go on, but none of them bring in the Bears' revenue so it would become a financial loss at that point. The only way Soldier Field could survive if the Bears left would be for a second NFL team to come into the city and call that stadium home.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she could see two teams playing in Chicago someday, but does that idea make sense? You see it in New York and Los Angeles, but Chicago is Chicago, and everyone knows the Bears. This isn't baseball where you have the North and Southside. This is football where everyone comes together to root for the same team.

Adding a second team in Chicago would be great financially, but the fan following will be difficult to persuade them away from the Bears. We saw the original XFL have a Chicago franchise in the Chicago Hitman and the Arena League Chicago Rush, so adding more football into the city would be interesting.

I don't know if the fans would get behind it enough to make it financially sustainable in the long run. If another team does land in Chicago, there would be some serious thoughts as to what the names could be, but that will be a topic for another day.

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