Bears announce plan to spend $2 billion on stadium in Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS)– The Chicago Bears are changing their plans from building a new stadium in Arlington Heights to helping finance a new stadium in the city of Chicago, the team announced Monday morning.

Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren said in a statement that the team would contribute more than $2 billion to build a new stadium in Chicago.

“The Chicago Bears are proud to contribute more than $2 billion to build a stadium and improve open spaces for all families, fans and the public to enjoy in the city of Chicago,” Warren said in the statement. “The future Chicago Bears stadium will bring a transformative opportunity to our region: boosting the economy, creating jobs, facilitating mega-events and generating millions in tax revenue. We look forward to sharing more information when our plans are finalized.”

Until Monday, it was unclear exactly where the new stadium would be built and what would happen to Soldier Field, which first opened in 1924 and has been the Bears' home stadium since 1971.

Last summer, the Bears' plan to build a new stadium appeared to focus on site of the former Arlington International Racecourse in the northwest suburbs, after the team spent millions to buy the site and tear down the racetrack.

But earlier this year, the team seemed Put that plan on the back burner in favor of building their new stadium along Chicago's lakefront.

“There is a benefit for the Bears to stay in Chicago. They are fine with it,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said Monday. “Public use has a benefit. That's what I've been pushing for. Second, they agree. They also recognize that we have a fiduciary responsibility to public-private partnerships to ensure that there is an ultimate benefit and not the heavy burdens that historically has been the case.”

Bears say they will invest $2 billion in new stadium in Chicago after talking about moving to suburb


The team has had conversations with city officials about the possibility of building a domed stadium in the south parking lot of Soldier Field. While the team confirmed Monday morning that it would provide $2 billion in private financing to replace Soldier Field with a new domed stadium, it was unclear whether its lakefront plan would require any public funding.

Justin Marlowe, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, told CBS 2 that creating a public-private partnership while building a new stadium is easier said than done and taxpayers could end up paying some of it. of the invoice.

“There may be some additional contributions from taxpayers, but the argument will be that all of those contributions will come from taxes that are generated on site, so you would be paying attractions taxes, sales taxes, hotel/motel taxes and other things that are not necessarily general taxes that everyone would pay,” Marlowe said. “So I think it's fair to say that the impact on taxpayers will be quite comparable to what it has been over the last 20 or 30 years.”

Questions also remain about whether the Bears' plans would face a legal challenge. The city's lakeshore protection ordinance largely prohibits new construction east of DuSable Lake Shore Drive. That ordinance was the basis of a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Friends of the Parks that successfully blocked an earlier plan by Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas to build a museum on the same site where the Bears now want to build. a new stadium. Instead, Lucas ended up building that museum in Los Angeles.

The Bears have been in talks for a new stadium to replace Soldier Field since 2021, when they first bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property in Arlington Heights. The Bears he eventually bought the site for $197 million in February 2023. Demolition of the grandstand and other structures on the site was completed in October.

In January of last year, Warren was clarified that he was ready to lead the team's move out of Chicago and into a new stadium in Arlington Heights. He said at the time that the Bears' only focus for a new stadium was the Arlington Heights site, and that they were not considering any options to stay at Soldier Field, the NFL's smallest stadium.

But in June of last year, Warren called the plan to move to Arlington Heights a “stagnation,” and in a press conference On Wednesday, he emphasized that the focus is on getting the plan right for a new stadium, regardless of where it ends up being built.

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