Chicago Bears: Not all fans would be excited for a new stadium

Chicago Bears (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) /

Rumors are swirling again about the Chicago Bears moving out of Soldier Field and building a new stadium. The problem is that many fans would not want a new stadium.

When the Chicago Bears decided that Soldier Field needed to be renovated back in 2002, many had hoped they would tear everything down and build a new, state-of-the-art stadium. Instead, we got the space ship that landed inside of the old Soldier Field walls. Now, to be fair, although the stadium lacks a large number of seats in comparison to most other stadiums, the actual inside is as good as most NFL stadiums.

The stadium only holds 61,500 seats, making it the lowest capacity stadium in the NFL now that the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. Many have dubbed it as the “mistake by the lake”. As I said, it literally looks like the old soldier field in many ways (columns and architecture on the outside remain), but a spaceship landed inside and is missing many things that could have saved the stadium from its constant ridicule. A retractable roof for example would have been nice.

Looking back on the original rumors, the Chicago Bears could have picked up and moved to Arlington Heights or Roselle. Remember a few years back when these same rumors took place regarding the Chicago Cubs? It seems this will be the norm for any sports franchise in Chicago looking to build a new stadium. Well, those rumors seem to be popping up again regarding the Bears and well, not all fans are happy about the idea.

Many PSL season ticket holders will be out their investment

Are you familiar with the acronym PSL in regards to stadium seating? PSL stands for permanent (or personal) seat licenses. The licenses came about when the new stadium was being built. Essentially, fans purchased a PSL as a one-time-only purchase to guarantee their season tickets would be in the best of areas.

Once the PSL is owned, it guarantees the owner of those PSLs the right to buy their season tickets every season. If you fail to buy the tickets, well, you lose everything. PSL owners also get early access to any other tickets sold for events at Soldier Field like concerts or other sporting events. You are able to sell the PSL on an open market, but the rights to the season tickets and other early ticket access transfer to the new PSL owner.

The cost of these PSLs was not cheap. To sit at the 50-yard line, each PSL cost $8,500 and an additional $315 for each game per seat. That equates to a nearly $12,000 investment for one seat. Most season ticket holders own more than one seat, which means an initial investment of $24,000 is more likely. Now, with the PSL only a one-time-charge, the annual investment would then drop to just the face value of the tickets for 10 games. Those prices have only gone up.

Now for the big problem with the purchase of a PSL. If the team decides to build a new stadium, that initial investment goes poof. Yep, that’s right the PSL is gone. Everyone who purchased them is out of the initial investment and will likely need to buy a new PSL for the new stadium if they wish to remain season ticket holders. As one of those PSL and STH, I am one of the people who do not want to see a new stadium and I am not alone.

The Chicago Bears do not own their own stadium. The park district does. This is another flaw, but the team only pays $6.3 million in annual rent for a stadium that cost $630 million to build. The Bears are in the 17th year of a 30-year lease that runs out in 2033.

Many believe the team could break the lease prior to 2033 to build a new stadium, but I only see that happening should new owners come into play. Virginia McCaskey is not young and many wonder if the kids sell when she dies. My thoughts are that they will not since many are involved in business and team operations.

When it comes down to it, the McCaskeys or new owners are not concerned with my (or any other season ticket holder’s) fears of losing out on the initial PSL investment. The owners know that the demand for Bears season tickets is high. The waiting list takes years before you have an opportunity to buy tickets. For anyone with fears of losing out on these investments, the only hope is selling the PSL on the open market place where the value has gone up 131 percent.

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I do not speak for all PSL owners. That said, I am not alone in my thoughts that this team takes more from us as fans every year than our money. If we knew that a new stadium would guarantee consistent success most would give up our investment. However, we all know that is not how things work — especially with this team. Therefore, many (myself included) will keep hoping that the team continues to call the “mistake by the lake” home for many years.