Chicago Mayor Johnson, Bears' CEO meet to discuss locations for team in city

Eric Horng Image
Friday, July 28, 2023
Chicago mayor, Bears' CEO meet to discuss locations for team in city
In Chicago Bears news, Mayor Brandon Johnson met with the NFL team's CEO Wednesday to discuss locations for the football team in the city.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Bears CEO Kevin Warren met Wednesday to discuss other locations in the city for the NFL team, the mayor's office said.

In a joint statement, Johnson and Warren said, "We continued our productive discussion this week that began in early June. We plan to have regular dialogue with each other and across our respective staffs as we work together to meet the needs of the citizens of Chicago and Bears fans."

It was not immediately clear what possible locations were discussed for the Chicago football team.

The meeting comes after yet another suburb is trying to lure the Bears out of Chicago. The village president of south suburban Richton Park was the latest official to reach out to the Chicago team last week.

The Bears purchased a race track in Arlington Heights and crews have begun demolition of the site.

Aurora, Naperville, Rockford and Waukegan have also reached out to the team, after Warren said the team is "In a position to start exploring other places and opportunities and no longer considers Arlington Heights as a singular focus."

They're all proposing land for a stadium and entertainment district.

In a statement, Arlington Heights officials said, "In response, and as we have stated before, the Village has always expected that the Bears would explore any and all viable locations as part of their due diligence process. However, the former Arlington International Racecourse site is a unique one-of-a-kind location with easy access to O'Hare Airport, I-90, Route 53, and includes a dedicated Metra Station, and is located in the heart of the Northwest Suburbs. It is clear that the Chicago Bears Football Club understands the unique potential of this site, as evidenced by their recent purchase of the property. The Village is committed to, and is actively working with the club and all other regional stakeholders to continue to explore the potential redevelopment of this site and to work through the inevitable challenges that come with any large development effort."

The Bears and Arlington Heights appear to be at a stalemate over lowering property taxes for the Arlington property.

Chicago is, of course, trying to keep the team at Soldier Field; although, some are skeptical the Bears and city can find an agreement.

Earlier this year, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot pitched plans to renovate Solider Field to entice the team to stay in the city. Mayor Brandon Johnson met with Chicago Bears management in June to talk about keeping the team at Soldier Field.

"You're not going to have two winners in this negotiation. It's going to be, no matter whether it's a city or a suburb and the Bears, somebody's going to win and somebody's going to lose," UC professor Allen Sanderson said.

In Chicago, land big enough for such a project could include property occupied by the Lakeside Center, part of the McCormick Place campus, as well as a parcel of vacant land between Chinatown and the Loop and on the Southeast Side, the former U.S. Steel site.

The Bears have yet to make an official announcement about whether they intend to move out of the city.

For now, the team's options are open.

This is a developing story; check back with ABC7 Chicago for updates.