Bears remain committed to downtown stadium despite Soldier Field lease, Arlington Heights property

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Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Bears remain publicly committed to downtown stadium plans
Kevin Warren remains publicly committed to a downtown Chicago Bears stadium despite a Soldier Field lease and owning Arlington Heights property.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is a room mostly full of Chicago Bears fans, so team president Kevin Warren spoke to a friendly crowd on Tuesday.

"We have a chance to build a great football team and a world-class stadium that will empower everyone in this room," Warren said.

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And they are looking for big things from the team this year.

"Let me also acknowledge Kevin Warren, who we're counting on to lead a similar turnaround of our beloved Chicago Bears," said Gov. JB Pritzker.

The governor made no mention, however, of the team's hopes for a new stadium on the lakefront. The Bears are offering more than $2 billion for the project, but need billions in public funds as well. Those funds may be tough to come by.

READ MORE | Pritzker aides meet with Bears about new stadium: 'Current proposal is a non-starter for the state'

"When you have a sports team worth billions of dollars, and coming to the public of subsidies, it's a hard sell," said 36th Ward Alderman Gilbert Villegas.

State lawmakers never took up the issue before adjourning the latest legislative session.

"It's just not a good proposal right now," said State Sen. Seth Lewis.

SEE ALSO | Architect proposes transforming Soldier Field for fraction of cost of new Chicago Bears stadium

But Mayor Brandon Johnson, who also spoke at Tuesday's event, is on board with the Bears plan. So is the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

"It's going to spur development, create thousands of jobs, and most importantly, get people back downtown," said Jack Lavin with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

And while the team still owns more than 300 acres in Arlington Heights, the Bears' president, in the meantime, remains publicly committed to a downtown stadium.

READ MORE | Arlington Heights leaders lay out what Arlington Park site can't be used for if Bears pass on it

"At the right time, we'll be able to figure something out," Warren said.

The Bears say they want to move forward with a new stadium plan as soon as possible, because the cost of building a stadium, due to inflation, goes up virtually every day. But the Team still has a lease with the Chicago Park District for Soldier Field until 2033.