Jim O'Donnell: Bears rebuff Wilson, say focus is on due diligence regarding Arlington Park

THE BEARS HAVE DISMISSED an overture from Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson to discuss ways and means of keeping the team in Chicago.

That's good news for fans hoping the team builds a new stadium on the land now housing the galloping ghosts of Arlington Park.

The Daily Herald learned Ted Phillips promptly replied to Wilson's request for a meeting with the Bears CEO and Chairman George McCaskey.

Wilson wanted to talk about either an expansion of seating and a dome for Soldier Field or a fresh domed stadium on a new site within city limits.

He has also put forth the idea that if the Bears leave the city, his mayoral administration would seek a new team in Chicago from the NFL.

INSTEAD, PHILLIPS WAS thoroughly preemptive in responding to the resourceful 73-year-old businessman.

According to individuals familiar with the exchange, Phillips said the Bears' sole focus currently is on long-term development of the racetrack site. That, along with ongoing due diligence regarding the $197.2 million Purchase and Sale agreement for the 326 acres agreed to by the team and seller Churchill Downs Inc. last September.

Phillips reportedly also indicated any communication with current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is being limited only to discussion of the organization's lease and operating conditions at Soldier Field.

That lease extends through the 2033 NFL season.

In the contract between the Bears and the Chicago Park District, the team's "buyout" from the lease diminishes each season. The breakaway figure to the park district after the 2026 season would be $84 million.

WILSON IS EXPECTED TO BE an impacting factor in the Feb. 28, 2023, Chicago Democratic mayoral primary.

He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In the 2019 Democratic primary, Wilson - with 10% of a light turnout - ran fourth behind Lightfoot (17%), Toni Preckwinkle (16%) and Bill Daley (14%).

He did, however, carry 11 of the city's 50 wards, more than any other candidate.

That sort of sway apparently doesn't carry over to the current laser-eyed intent of the Bears front office regarding a move to Arlington Heights.

STREET-BEATIN': Very punchy punishments for Olin Kreutz if two of his remaining Chicago sports media clients want to sanction him for brute-rushing Adam Hoge: At "The Score," he should be made to listen to one week of the dreg house's daytime swill; At NBC Sports Chicago, a couple of hours viewing whatever air-brained daily claptrap David "Chatty" Kaplan is involved with would serve Oahu justice. ...

More Sox themes than Macy's footwear department when Jason Benetti calls play-by-play for the premiere of "MLB Sunday Leadoff" this weekend (NBC, Peacock, 10:30 a.m.). Joining him for the White Sox at Fenway will be Kevin Youkilis and Steve Stone. Youkilis is the Boston regional MLB analyst who was around two World Series winners with the Red Sox and closed the 2012 season with the White Sox. ...

Here's the extended broadcast weekend of the hustling Eddie Olczyk: Thursday night, G2, Penguins-Rangers (TNT); Friday, from Louisville, the Kentucky Oaks (USA Network); Saturday, the Kentucky Derby on NBC; Sunday, G4, Maple Leafs-Lightning (TBS); and, Monday, G4, Panthers-Capitals (TBS). (Tuesday, maybe Edzo can fill in for Lester Holt on "The NBC Nightly News.") ...

Retired NBAer Stephon Marbury upped the ante with his recent tweet calling Stephen A. Smith an "uncle Tom" (sic) for Smith's ongoing criticism of Kyrie Irving, the season-wrecking, part-time Brooklyn Net. Marbury added: "I am starting to think (Smith) thinks he's a star for speaking the English language loud and obnoxious on TV." (That's breaking news?) ...

And Gotham robin Lloyd Stone, going yard with memories of what was once exotic electronica: "One day they're going to join all these sports streaming services together for one fixed price and call it cable TV!"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at

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