Dec 13, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; In this drone image, a general view of Soldier Field with the Chicago skyline before a game between the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans the at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago unveils plans to put roof over Soldier Field

In an effort to keep the Chicago Bears along the shore of Lake Michigan, the city has proposed a $2.2-billion makeover to historic Soldier Field, which would be the second major enhancement to the venue in the last two decades.

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed plans to turn Soldier Field into a domed stadium in order to enhance the current home of the Bears, as well as the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.

A portion of the price tag would be paid for by selling the naming rights to the stadium, although any deal with require it to still be seen as a war memorial and likely still have “Soldier” somewhere in the new name.

“We need to invest in Soldier Field. Soldier Field must be a year-round destination,” Lightfoot said Monday. “We must enhance the fan experience. And that’s precisely what we aim to do.

“We are making a compelling case for the Bears to stay in Chicago. They want a Tier One stadium to maximize revenues and we agree.”

News has circulated for years that the Bears could be on the move to a new stadium in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Ill. That venue would be built at the sight of the former Arlington Park race track, which was closed in 2021 and slated for redevelopment.

In September of last year, the Bears signed a purchase agreement to acquire the property for just shy of $200 million. In March, the Bears hired an architecture firm to come up with stadium plans.

But the Bears’ lease at Soldier Field runs until 2033, and while they have the chance to break the lease in 2026, it would come with an $84 million penalty, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Bears have played at Soldier Field since 1971 after moving there from Wrigley Field. The Fire played there from 1998-2005 before moving to a more intimate stadium in the Southside suburbs, but they returned in 2020.

A Soldier Field renovation that started in 2002 ended up with a $632 million price tag, temporarily forcing the Bears to move to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on the campus of the University of Illinois, for the 2002 season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; A general view of the exterior of Soldier Field before the game between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Chicago poised to examine dome for Soldier Field

A city committee is likely to convene in Chicago soon to explore the possibility of putting a dome on Soldier Field, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

A dome could make the nearly century-old stadium more desirable for the Chicago Bears and other potential users, if it is economically and architecturally viable. The Bears signed a purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill., and could build a stadium complex there.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in February that adding a dome could be considered as part of the work done by her Lakefront Museum Campus Working Group, which is reimaging the area around Soldier Field.

Crain’s said a draft of a soon-to-be-released report prepared by the group said a dome could cost anywhere from $400 million to $1.5 billion and likely would require public financial assistance.

In addition to a dome, the city could consider a variety of structural changes to Soldier Field, including “substantially rebuilding” parts of the stadium, per Crain’s. Selling naming rights also could be under consideration.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep the Bears in Chicago,” Lightfoot said in an interview on WSCR-AM 670 in February. “We’re working on some plans to present to them that I think will make a very, very compelling financial case as to why it makes an abundance of sense for them to stay in Chicago.”

Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District. With 61,500 fans, it has the lowest capacity in the NFL.

It opened in 1924. The next-oldest stadium in the league is Lambeau Field in Green Bay, which dates to 1957.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans safety Dane Cruikshank (29) amps up the crowd during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Bears sign ex-Titans S Dane Cruikshank

The Chicago Bears signed safety Dane Cruikshank to a one-year contract Thursday.

The 26-year-old Cruikshank spent the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He appeared in 44 games (four starts), recording 65 tackles, two passes defended and one interception.

Cruikshank provides the Bears with depth in the secondary as well as special-teams experience. He had 18 special-teams tackles from 2018-19, which ranked second on the Titans during that time.

Tennessee drafted Cruikshank in the fifth round (No. 152 overall) out of Arizona in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Bears game offers Vikings chance to boost playoff chances

The Minnesota Vikings will look to bolster their chances of making the playoffs when they visit the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

Minnesota (6-7) is part of a crowded group of teams in the NFC with six or seven wins that is chasing after potential wild-card berths in the postseason. The Vikings are coming off a 36-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and have three wins in their past five games.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook needs only 22 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard milestone for the third season in a row. He is averaging 119.7 yards from scrimmage (97.8 rushing, 21.9 receiving) in 10 games this season.

“It’s a tough defense we’re going against, I can tell you that,” Cook said. “Their system they run, the guys they bring in, fits what they’re trying to do. We’ve got to be ready for a tough task on Monday, and I know that we’re putting in the work with these extra days that we’ve got.”

Chicago (4-9) is hoping for a bright spot in what has been a dreary season. The Bears have lost two games in a row and seven of their last eight.

Rookie quarterback Justin Fields has offered glimpses of his potential, but he also has endured growing pains in his first season out of Ohio State. Fields has a 69.3 passer rating on the season while throwing for 1,585 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also has rushed for 385 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

David Montgomery leads the Bears with 801 yards from scrimmage (608 rushing, 193 receiving) but sometimes has had to take on less of a role with the Bears playing from behind.

Montgomery is dealing with an illness that kept him out of Thursday’s practice. Chicago did not have 19 players available because of injuries or illness, and all three of the team’s coordinators – Bill Lazor (offense), Sean Desai (defense) and Chris Tabor (special teams) – were forced to stay away as part of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“It’s the next-man-up mentality, not just for the players, but for coaches, too, is the way that I look at it,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “In these types of moments, what you’ve got to do is try to stay really positive, take care of your body, stay together and realize that we’re not the only ones right now in that.”

The Vikings also are facing uncertainty with COVID-19 cases on the rise once again. The Vikings have put Alexander Mattison, Dede Westbrook and Dan Chisena on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins will try to maintain his recent success away from home. Cousins has thrown at least two touchdown passes in nine straight road games, and on Monday he will try to become the sixth signal-caller in NFL history to do it in 10 consecutive road games.

Cousins’ top target, Justin Jefferson, also is looking to put his name in the history books. Jefferson needs 68 receiving yards to surpass Odell Beckham Jr. (2,755 receiving yards) for the most ever by a receiver in his first two seasons.

The Bears have won five of their last six games against Minnesota and lead the all-time series, 61-56-2.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) makes a catch for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals celebrate Kyler Murray’s return with win in Chicago

Kyler Murray passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more in his return from injury and the defense snagged four interceptions as the visiting Arizona Cardinals defeated the Chicago Bears 33-22 on Sunday for their third win in four games.

Arizona (10-2) remained atop the NFC while clinching its first double-digit victory season since 2015 and just the fifth such campaign since the franchise relocated from St. Louis following the 1987 season.

The Cardinals persisted through a rainy afternoon that played havoc on both sides. Murray, playing for the first time in three weeks following an ankle injury, recovered his own fumble on the first snap he handled, resulting in a Chicago sack.

Three plays later, on 4th and 2, Murray connected with DeAndre Hopkins on a 20-yard touchdown pass as the Cardinals capitalized on an Andy Dalton interception on the Bears’ first possession. Hopkins (hamstring) also was back in the lineup after missing three games due to injury.

On the ensuing Bears’ possession, Arizona’s Budda Baker intercepted a Dalton pass that was dropped by a tumbling Cole Kmet and returned it 76 yards to the Chicago 15. Murray capped the drive with a nine-yard scoring run.

The Cardinals scored 23 points on four Dalton interceptions, beginning each possession inside the Bears’ 30.

Arizona took a 21-7 lead into halftime after having possession for a mere 10:46.

A 33-yard Matt Prater field goal boosted the Cardinals’ lead to 24-7 with 9:52 left in the third quarter. Chicago (4-8) responded with a 13-play, 73-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a 1-yard scoring pass from Dalton to Jimmy Graham to draw within 24-14. Prater added a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter.

David Montgomery rushed 21 times for 90 yards and a touchdown for the Bears while adding 51 yards on eight receptions.

Dalton was 26-for-41 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Jakeem Grant had five catches for 62 yards and a score.

Murray was 11-for-15 passing for 123 yards while rushing 10 times for 59 yards. James Conner ran for 75 yards and had 36 receiving yards and a score.

Veteran linebacker Bruce Irvin made his season debut for Chicago, his first appearance since suffering a torn ACL late in Week 2 of the 2020 season while playing for the Seattle Seahawks.

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Bears chairman tells players Matt Nagy is staying

Matt Nagy is staying with the Chicago Bears. That’s if the team’s chairman, George McCaskey, is to be believed.

Multiple outlets have reported that McCaskey met with Bears players and coaches Wednesday, telling the team there was no truth to the report that their head coach would be fired after the Bears (3-7) play the Detroit Lions (0-9-1) on Thanksgiving Day.

Neither McCaskey nor anyone else in the front office has yet to comment on the matter publicly.

On Tuesday, Nagy denied the Patch.com report that said the Detroit game would be his last.

“That is not accurate,” Nagy said, adding that he didn’t expect any public votes of confidence as his attention was preparing for the Lions.

“We all have our own decisions as to how we do things, and I think this whole entire time, for me and for ownership, we’ve had great communication,” Nagy said. “Again, it’s focused on Detroit. That’s what it is.”

The Bears have lost five consecutive games and will start backup Andy Dalton at quarterback against the winless Lions.

Nagy’s Bears have scored just 163 points this season as they’ve tried to work in rookie first-round draft pick Justin Fields into the fold, despite Nagy’s background as an offensive coach. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and Lions have scored fewer points.

Nagy has finished 8-8 the last two seasons after going 12-4 and winning the NFC North in his first season as Bears coach in 2018.

“My focus is on these players and Detroit, and that’s it. That’s my job as a head coach and a leader, is to do that. These players have been amazing,” he said. “They’ve been great. You have this quick turnaround after a loss like (Sunday’s to the Ravens), and now here you go. The only thing we can do is focus on the now and do everything we can. Thursday is going to be here quickly.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) fumbles the football against Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn (94) in the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman, Tyler Huntley propel Ravens past Bears

Devonta Freeman’s 3-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left lifted the visiting Baltimore Ravens to a 16-13 win against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

After the Bears took a 13-9 lead with 1:41 remaining, the Ravens, helped by a 21-yard pass interference penalty and a 30-yard completion from quarterback Tyler Huntley to Sammy Watkins, drove 72 yards in five plays.

Andy Dalton had found Marquise Goodwin for a 49-yard touchdown pass with 1:41 remaining to give Chicago (3-7) the lead.

Earlier in the fourth, Baltimore (7-3) had taken a 9-7 lead on Justin Tucker’s 46-yard field goal, his third of the day, with 3:41 to play.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was inactive because of an illness not related to COVID-19. Tyler Huntley, undrafted out of Utah in 2020, made his first NFL start and completed 26-of-36 passes for 219 yards and one interception and ran for 40 yards.

Dalton came on early in the third quarter when Justin Fields left with a rib injury after being hit on a 6-yard run. Dalton finished 11-for-23 for 201 yards and two touchdowns.

After a deflected punt, the Ravens started at the Chicago 45 with 7:29 remaining, and after seven plays, Tucker connected from 46 yards out.

In the third, Dalton took the Bears 83 yards in two plays. First, he hit Jimmy Graham for 23 yards to the 40, and then he passed to Darnell Mooney on a bubble screen and the receiver broke several tackles en route to a 60-yard touchdown … giving the Bears a 7-6 lead with 8:02 left.

The Ravens took over on the Bears 49 after stopping David Montgomery on fourth-and-1. Baltimore drove to the 22, but Huntley was intercepted by a diving Tashaun Gibson at the 14.

The Bears were driving when Fields was sacked and fumbled, with the Ravens recovering at their own 34. On third-and-10, Huntley scrambled 19 yards to the Bears 47. The Ravens drove to the Bears 17 before being forced to settle for a Tucker field goal.

Baltimore took over at their own 37 with just over a minute left in the half. On fourth-and-one at the Chicago 43, Huntley ran eight yards and the Ravens later ended the half with a 27-yard Tucker field goal.

The Ravens played without wide receiver Marquise Brown (thigh injury).

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) reaches for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Fields practices in full, Andy Dalton limited for 2nd straight day

The Chicago Bears received the full participation of rookie quarterback Justin Fields at practice for the second straight day Thursday, easing concerns about his availability for Chicago’s next game against the Detroit Lions at home Sunday.

Nose tackle Eddie Goldman (knee) also worked out without restrictions.

Fields, the No. 11 overall draft pick in this spring’s draft, suffered a right thumb injury in his first career start against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. The Bears lost 26-6 as Fields completed just 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards.

Several teammates have been impressed by his response to that outing.

“When you go through a day like we went through on Sunday, that’s tough on everybody, especially the quarterback and especially for your first start,” tight end Cole Kmet told the team site. “It’s been cool to see his attitude towards it and him wanting to get back to work this week. I’m still excited for him. He’s an unbelievable player and I think that’s going to show.”

The position, however, remains a mystery. The Bears’ previous starting quarterback, Andy Dalton, was limited Thursday with an injured knee, and Bears head coach Matt Nagy has expressed a preference for starting Dalton.

“Andy’s the 1, Justin’s the 2 and Nick is the 3,” Nagy said earlier this week. “The starter will be sorted out once we have a clearer picture.”

Dalton was joined by wide receiver Darnell Mooney (groin) on the limited list, while linebacker Khalil Mack (foot), cornerback Xavier Crawford (back), safety Tashaun Gipson (hamstring), linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (hamstring) and tight end Jesse James (personal) were held out.

–Field Level Media

NFL Week 7 Football Props: Patriots vs. Bears

NFL Week 7 Football Props: Patriots vs. Bears

It’s official: The Patriots are legitimate. Except for those living in New England, most people were silently hoping that this would be the year that the AFC reign of the Patriots would end. Following a 1-2 start, Patriots fans may have been a bit skeptical, but likely remembered that they’ve dropped at least one of the first four games over in 2017 and 2016. Since week 3, New England has put up 38+ points, and just last week took down the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in a 43-40 shootout. New England is strong, and looking to continue their hot streak.

Now the Bears have certainly found their guy in Mitch Trubisky. He’s tossed his way to 11 touchdowns, only 4 interceptions, and a QBR of 105.6. He’s put together a solid 3-2 start for the Bears, who currently sit atop the NFC North, even though the Vikings and Packers are right behind them. Four of their five games have been decided by less than one score. In those games, they’re 2-2, and allowed both the Packers and Dolphins to stage 4th quarter comebacks that led to losses for the Bears. The rout over the Buccaneers gave Chicago faithful a great deal of hope, but Sunday’s matchup with New England will be a true test for them. They come in as 3 point underdogs, but their explosive offense could prove challenging for the Patriots. Plus Khalil Mack will likely make Tom Brady’s life a bit more difficult.

Alternate lines are available at Sugar House Sportsbook if you live in the state of New Jersey.

Patriots vs. Bears Props

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Hearing Reveals Illinois Lawmakers Moving Toward Legalizing Sports Betting

If anything became clear from Wednesday’s Joint Committee on Revenue in Finance in Illinois it was this: Illinois lawmakers are eager to pass a bill legalizing sports wagering in Illinois. The question — or questions — are what the bill will look like. During the four-plus hour hearing in Springfield, lawmakers heard from gaming stakeholders, representatives from individual cities and towns, pro sports players’ associations, Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox, various horsemen’s groups and racetracks and those opposed to sports betting.

Questions from the bi-partisan panel of lawmakers almost exclusively focused on details, suggesting that many had already made the decision that legal sports betting is right for Illinois. But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to legalizing sports betting, there are many, many, many details.

The hearing was put together by Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28) and was the second of two in the last few months. Rita introduced SB 7 in 2017, and the bill has gone through multiple iterations and evolved into a comprehensive bill that contemplates online gaming and daily fantasy sports as well.