The Chicago Bears have been in the NFL since the league’s first year in 1920 and in that time, the team has only been owned by one family, but that could soon be changing.
According to Jim O’Donnell of the Daily Herald in Chicago, there could be a sale coming in the near future and that’s because there’s some “internal strife going on among family members to sell … now.”
The principal owner of the team is 98-year-old Virginia Halas McCaskey, who is the daughter of Bears founder George Halas. The NFL legend ran the team until his death in 1983 and at that point, Virginia took over as the head of the franchise.
The team has a board of directors made up of eight individuals and currently, five of those eight are members of the McCaskey family.
At this point, selling the team would basically serve two purposes. First, it would allow the McCaskey family to cash-in on their investment. The Bears are worth an estimated $3.5 billion and if that’s what they end up selling for, it would create a huge profit for the family. To put the team’s current value in perspective, just consider this: George Halas only paid $100 for the team in 1920.
By selling, it would also potentially put the Bears in better shape for the future. Soldier Field is in serious need of a facelift, but that’s not going to be easy to pull off due to the high cost that would come with trying to renovate the stadium. If Soldier Field can’t be updated, there’s a chance the Bears could move outside of Chicago to Arlington Park, but that would only happen if the team can get a new stadium built there. Whether they fix Soldier Field or build a new stadium, it’s not going to be cheap and bringing in a deep-pocketed owner would help the cause.
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According to O’Donnell, the three most likely candidates to purchase the team would be Pat Ryan, Jeff Bezos and Neil Bluhm. Ryan is a billionaire and he’d likely have the best shot at landing the Bears because he’s already a minority owner (he also has the right of first refusal to buy any part of the team that the McCaskey’s might sell). Ryan is well known in Chicago and already has the football field and basketball arena at Northwestern named after him. Not to mention, he’s one of the eight people that sits on the Bears board of directors.
It used to be next to impossible to become an NFL owner and that’s mostly because teams were never for sale (plus, you have to be a billionaire to be able to afford one), but if the Bears end up on the market, they could join several other teams like the Broncos and Chargers who could eventually be for sale in the next few years.