Waukegan mayor invites Chicago Bears to consider move to suburban city

ByCraig Wall and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Another mayor invites Bears to explore move to suburb
Waukegan Mayor Ann B. Taylor wrote a letter to the Chicago Bears, inviting them to explore a move to the suburban city.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- The Chicago Bears may just have added another offensive option to their playbook when it comes to the team's future home.

The mayor of Waukegan made the latest pitch to the team to lure the Bears north.

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"We believe that the Monsters of the Midway deserve the opportunity to continue the tradition of playing along the shores of Lake Michigan, with the market opportunity of having a year-round facility capable of hosting other major events, including the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and other events of an international scale."

One sports business expert called it a smart move with the Bears' ties to Lake County.

"Waukegan and the entire area has been Lake Forest has been the home of the Bears for everything except the games themselves that have been downtown. And, that's what training facilities are; that's where the offices, the main offices are," said Marc Ganis with SportsCorp.

Last week, Naperville officials held their second meeting with the Bears about the former BP Amoco property along I-88 as a possible option for a Bears stadium.

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And, new Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is still trying to convince the Bears to stay in the city. The Bears made it clear they have a responsibility to consider more than just the Arlington racetrack property.

Local leaders, including one grassroots organization, remain hopeful.

"I do think the highest and best use is the former Arlington racecourse space. I think the Bears, with their purchase, have shown that they want to make this the best space. Sadly, politics have gotten in the way," said Holly Connors with Touchdown Arlington.

That politics includes the Arlington property be reassessed at five times its 2021 tax value.

"They're in the middle of Cook County politics right now. That the assessor is trying to stick it to the Bears. And, what he may succeed in doing is pushing this multibillion dollar project into either DuPage or Lake County," Ganis said.

Ganis said most NFL teams don't pay property taxes because stadiums are owned by municipalities. But, those that do pay a relatively small fixed amount. The latest assessment on this property would cost the Bears millions each year, money that Ganis said the team doesn't want to pay.