New Chicago Bears stadium in Arlington Heights won't be paid for by IL taxpayers, Gov. Pritzker says

Craig Wall Image
Friday, October 1, 2021
New Bears stadium won't be paid for by IL taxpayers, Pritzker says
New Bears stadium won't be paid for by IL taxpayers, Pritzker says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the Chicago Bears look at a potential move to Arlington Heights, Governor JB Pritzker says if they're looking for state help in building a new stadium, they may need to look elsewhere.

If the Bears trade in their Soldier Field digs for a brand new stadium where Arlington Park currently sits, it seems likely they will ask taxpayers to foot part of the bill.

"I'm sure they've thought that through and I'm sure there's going to be some tax dollars involved," said Fred Mitchell, former Chicago Tribune sports writer.

Taxpayers covered $432 million of the most recent Soldier Field renovations in 2002, and are often part of how NFL teams pay for their enormously expensive stadiums. The newest NFL arena, SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, cost nearly $5 billion but it was built without any taxpayer funds. The $2 billion Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, on the other hand, included $750 million in public funds.

Arlington Heights Bears stadium could be big boon

If the Bears build a stadium in Arlington Heights, it could be a big boon for residents and businesse sin town.

"Somebody is going to have to put a billion dollars on the table, if not $2 billion dollars on the table. Who is that going to be? The Bears certainly do not want it to be the Bears," said Allen Sanderson, University of Chicago Economics professor.

And the governor does not want it to be the state of Illinois.

"I can just tell you that I have not had any discussions, haven't been approached by anybody, neither the city nor the Bears themselves, so it's not something we're currently looking at, like I said we're focused on our own fiscal situation," Pritzker said.

"It's going to be an opportunity for the Bears to try to sell their product to people of Arlington Heights, and as well as people from within the city of Chicago to say that this is a better option for you," Mitchell said.

Caught in the middle are season ticket holders like Amie Leibovitz. Her family has had them for more than 50 years. They bought personal seat licenses and sit front row at the visitors' 30 yard line.

"You would like to think that there would be a fair process for those who have stood by this team through the bad and the ugly," Leibovitz said.

Any new stadium is likely at least four years away, but according to sources the Bears privately warned the season ticket holder board this summer that there's no guarantees on tickets in a new facility.