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No, Chicago Doesn't Need Another NFL Team

By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 15, 2009 7:30PM

2009_05_2nfl_footballs.jpg Sometimes, we're puzzled by the extremes that the mainstream media will go to create news or controversy in an attempt to boost readership. We know that journalism's practice of these tactics go way back -- Hearst ignited a war to sell papers -- but to waste time with something as stupid as pondering whether Chicago needs another NFL team? Come on! And yet that's what we get from the Sun-Times today, as they have Mike North and Dan Jiggets face off on the issue.

North takes the point of view in support of another team, mentioning that Chicago used to have two teams (the Cardinals fled for St. Louis in 1959) and that other metro areas still do support two teams -- New York, San Francisco Bay area, and Baltimore/Washington. What he fails to mention is that those areas all support teams who were originally in two separate leagues, and joined the NFL when it merged with the AFL.

An even goofier reason is that the Bears have a monopoly and that a new team would provide competition to push Bears management into running the team better. It's a pro sports franchise, Mike, not a cell phone company! Nearly all professional teams are exclusives in their sport in their city, and even those that aren't have deeply entrenched fan bases that don't switch sides because of a better season or cheaper ticket prices.

Jiggets provides the voice of reason in this "debate", mentioning just how entrenched the Bears are in the fabric of our city and its sports fans, reminding North that "when it comes to the Bears, it’s part of most Chicagoans’ DNA." Halas, Butkis, Ditka, Payton... they are football in Chicago No upstart is going to make a major dent into that base of support for a loooong time -- if ever. Certainly not in the time that the business of sports would allow these days.

Since Jiggets fails to counter North's silly monopoly argument, we will. Team owners have proven that they will not react any differently in a competitive environment than they will if they're the only ream in a city. Don Sterling is perhaps the worst owner in all of sports. And his Clippers compete for fans with the legendary L.A. Lakers. Or look at how Al Davis has mismanaged the Raiders over the years, from their exile to Los Angeles to their current draft picks and coaching fiascos.

On the flipside, all ones has to do is to take a look at our Blackhawks. Left for dead by most Chicago sports fans because of Bill Wirtz's reign of terror over the franchise, they've returned in droves due to the changes implemented by Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough -- all without some rival NHL franchise breathing down their backs.