Chicago Bears’ stadium search swings back within city limits

The Chicago Bears’ hunt for a stadium site has been like a game of pinball across the metro area. 

The NFL squad is backing off its $5 billion plan for Arlington Heights amid a property-tax assessment dispute, and is instead focusing on remaining in the city limits, Crain’s reported.

Sources within the municipal government and the team indicate that this shift signifies more than a negotiation tactic with Arlington Heights — it’s a genuine desire to maintain a presence in the heart of the city. 

Plans may soon be made public, outlining the development of a state-of-the-art domed stadium on the parking lot south of Soldier Field, where the team has played for more than 50 years. This new venue could accommodate not only the Bears but also prestigious events like NCAA basketball tournaments and Super Bowls.

Financing for the project is expected to involve a unique bonding clause within the law governing the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. However, there is competition. Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is eyeing a similar source for a Major League Baseball stadium. 

Opposition from groups like Friends of the Parks, who vehemently oppose private development on the lakefront, could present hurdles, the outlet said. 

The change in focus reflects various factors, including escalating costs associated with the Arlington Heights site and a more favorable relationship with Chicago’s leadership. Bears president Kevin Warren, who also spearheaded stadium projects in downtown Minneapolis, had previously engaged in discussions with Mayor Brandon Johnson about the team’s future. 

While specifics regarding cost and size of a new Chicago stadium remain undisclosed, the recent hiring of an engineering firm to assess the Soldier Field area highlights the team’s intent. Despite lingering questions and potential obstacles, the Bears seem poised for a departure from its previous plan, which called for a stadium-anchored mixed-use development in the northwest suburbs.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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