Chicago has had two NFL teams before the modern NFL expansion
The Chicago Bears ran their “little brother”, the Chicago Cardinals, out of town in 1959 before the modern NFL expansion era. There hasn’t been another NFL home team other than the Bears in the “Windy City” ever since. Could that change in the near future? One NFL columnist named Chicago on his list of cities that would be a good home for an NFL expansion team.
Chicago has a large population and could likely support a second NFL team. But how many Bears fans would be enthusiastic about the new team? Kristopher Knox, writing for Bleacher Report, cited a quote from Mike Florio about whispers that the NFL could grow to 40 teams. Knox examined possible cities that could host new teams.
Chicago was listed as one of the possible hosts for one of those eight teams for NFL expansion. Here’s what Knox wrote:
If the NFL isn’t willing to add a second team in the Dallas area, perhaps it could be persuaded to have a second one in Chicago. Yes, the city already has the Bears, but adding an AFC counterpart isn’t at all unrealistic.
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.
The financial challenge of building a new football stadium in Chicago—Soldier Field opened in 1924—could be overcome by adding a second franchise along with the Bears.
“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 last June.
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.
It would make sense for Chicago to build a stadium to house both teams for economic reasons. Two teams playing more games would mean more revenue… Although some of the lone luster that makes the Bears special could fade by sharing homes with a new NFL expansion team.
Chicago doesn’t need all that drama with an NFL expansion team
Personally, I like having one NFL team in my favorite city. It’s already challenging enough as a White Sox fan that the MLB allows the Cubs to stay in Chicago, but I can understand the “Crosstown Classic” series as a historical relic. I don’t see many fans wanting to support the Bears and a new team. I could see the move working out more like Los Angeles with the Rams getting most of the support and the Chargers having trouble filling out soccer stadiums.
The worst fear for me as a Bears fan would be knowing that the new team would be parading downtown for a Super Bowl celebration before the “Monsters of the Midway” do. I couldn’t handle a new, unpopular franchise going to heights I’ve never seen the Bears partake in.
There are way too many new cities for an NFL expansion team
There are a lot of cities on Knox’s list that would be better locations for a new NFL expansion team. Give the team to a city that doesn’t have anyone of interest near their hometown. Oklahoma City has a rabid fan base with the Thunder, and the nearby Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys could use a team to watch on Sundays. Austin is also growing yearly, and an NFL team would benefit new residents looking for weekend entertainment.
If the NFL wants to grow Internationally, it should consider adding teams outside of the US. Cities like Mexico City, London, and Tokyo, would be options that could be exciting for fans to travel to. While Chicago is a fantastic city, I’m not sure Arlington Heights is big enough for another team besides the Bears.