Some Bears fans and South Loop business owners have mixed feelings about a possible move to Arlington Heights

As the Bears faithful gathered ahead of the team’s opening win in the rain on Sunday, the specter of a potential move to Arlington Heights loomed like storm clouds over Soldier Field.

The game with the San Francisco 49ers came just three days after a crucial community meeting in the northwest suburbs, where Bears president George McCaskey vowed the team would be “good neighbours” while conceding that massive development would depend, in part, on taxpayers’ money.

Hundreds of those fans were at the Reggies Chicago, 2105 S. State St., before. Reggies owner Robby Glick hopes the team will stay put.

“I’m a Chicagoan, I’m a Bears fan,” said season-ticket holder Glick. “I don’t want them to move. I want the team in town. I would love to see the Bears stay at Soldier.

“But I say that selfishly. I want the company and I don’t want to go all the way to Arlington Heights.

Reggies was packed at 9.40am, with more than 400 people circulating in the bar, a standard crowd for home games. Fans clamoring for cocktails and the bar’s $15 all-you-can-eat buffet were eventually offered free rides to and from the stadium on old school buses.

Bears fans board a bus outside Reggies Chicago on Sunday for a free ride to Soldier Field.

Glick said he understands why the Bears want to leave, even if it would reduce his game day activities. Other fans made similar concessions, springing from a long list of grievances.

They complained that the stadium is one of the smallest in the league; there is a dome protecting the fans from the weather; queues for restrooms and concessions are too long; there is never enough parking; the train stops are too far.

Kevin Conley stopped at Reggies with his brother before heading to Soldier Field. Weather aside, Conley was thrilled to get to the game, his first as a season ticket holder.

But he is also excited about the prospect of a possible new stadium with more seats, better equipment and easier access.

“I’m all for it,” said Conley, who lives in the city. “It’s a pain to get to the stadium now, plus it’s old and small. It would take as long to get here as to get to the new stadium.

Other fans weren’t so optimistic.

“I’m not too happy,” said South Loop resident Blake Neal. “It’s unfortunate if they end up moving. We live here and have just become subscribers. And with Reggies, you can hang out at the bar and then take the bus straight to the stadium.

It might be closer for suburban dwellers, Neal said, but it won’t be as close for south side dwellers.

Bears fans watch the game at Kroll's South Loop on Sunday.  September 11, 2022.

Bears fans watch Sunday’s game at Kroll’s South Loop.

A few blocks from Kroll’s South Loop, 1736 S. Michigan Ave., Bears fans were evenly divided.

Hyde Park resident Jeremy Balfe who stopped to watch the game said he was all for a new pitch.

“Chicago deserves a bigger and better stadium,” Balfe said. “It’s an outdated stadium for many reasons. There needs to be a dome for bad weather days like today. It would be great if Soldier could be improved and they could stay here, but I don’t think everything just not that it’s feasible.

As for Nicole Steinmetz, the owner of the bar, the move from Soldier Field would be devastating to her business. Kroll’s is reliably stocked before and after Bears games, Steinmetz said, and the bar stays busy with people coming to watch.

“Home games make a huge difference for us,” she said. “I understand why they are looking to leave, but it would be awful for local businesses here.”

Chicago Bears fans endured heavy rain in the fourth quarter of the team's 19-10 win over San Francisco on Sunday.

Chicago Bears fans endured heavy rain in the fourth quarter of the team’s 19-10 win over San Francisco on Sunday. Among the complaints some fans have about Soldier Field? No roof.

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