Chicago Named Top City for New NFL Franchise

Soldier Field

Getty An aerial view of Soldier Field and the Chicago skyline before a Bears game.

The Chicago Bears are one of two charter franchises of the NFL, having been around since 1920. Could another team join them in the Windy City?

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report thinks it’s likely, and he’s not alone.

Factoring in things “like population, infrastructure, existing major-league markets and any other region-specific considerations that would make a site special for an NFL team,” Knox named Chicago as one of the likeliest cities to host a new NFL team.

This isn’t the first time someone has mentioned Chicago as an option for an expansion franchise. Insider Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk singled the city out in June of 2021.

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Chicago Next Logical City to Host 2nd NFL Franchise, Analysts Say

Knox thinks adding an AFC franchise makes sense for Chicago.

“Yes, the city already has the Bears, but adding an AFC counterpart isn’t at all unrealistic,” Knox wrote on June 19. “New York City and Los Angeles, the two cities bigger than Chicago, are both home to a pair of NFL franchises. The Windy City already supports two MLB teams—the Cubs and the White Sox—along with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, the NHL’s Blackhawks, the WNBA’s Sky, the MLS’ Fire and the NSWL’s Red Stars.”

“Chicago is a tremendous sports city and one of the biggest markets in the country. The NFL should be eager to double-dip into that market if the opportunity presents itself,” Knox added.

This is something Florio wrote about a year ago, shortly before the Bears made headlines for officially announcing they bought the Arlington Park property in September of 2021. While the team has yet to reveal plans for a new stadium there, multiple insiders agree that’s the next logical step.

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Soldier Field Isn’t Likely to Stay Vacant

In the likely event the Bears build a new stadium in Arlington Heights — and it’s extremely likely, as they’ve already chosen a designer to help build the stadium, per a March 16 report courtesy of Venues Now’s Don Muret — their current legendary venue, Soldier Field, won’t stay vacant for long.

“If Bears build their own stadium (like Rams owner Stan Kroenke has done), adding another team to the mix and the extra 10 home games per year that go along with it, a team in a market that can’t or won’t pay for all or most of a new or renovated stadium could be inclined to make the move,” Florio wrote in 2021.

“Other than London — which quite possibly will end up with two teams in its two NFL-ready stadiums — Chicago may be the only viable spot for a team,” he added.

Soldier Field, which opened on October 9, 1924, has served as the home stadium for the Bears since September of 1971. Current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made no secret of her desire to keep the Bears in Chicago, but since that seems highly unlikely at this point, Lightfoot would probably consider moving another NFL franchise into the stadium if the league does expand and the Bears move to Arlington Heights.

If the NFL does choose to add more expansion teams, it’ll likely happen several years down the road, and the building of a new stadium is also several years away for the Bears. Still, don’t be surprised if one of the league’s next teams lands in the Windy City in the not-too-distant future.

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