O’Donnell: Stephens, Rosemont would be bulldozing a new Bears stadium to the goal line

IN TUESDAY'S DAILY HERALD, news hawk Christopher Placek reported Rosemont mayor Brad Stephens said he's in favor of Warren's Folly.

That's the against-all-odds proposal by the Bears and resume-building president Kevin Warren to destroy the core aesthetic of the central Chicago lakefront and build a new football stadium on land where even Daniel Burnham was slow to make new plans.

The position of Mayor Stephens caused a few raised eyebrows and a whole lot more sardonic chuckles.

He's the precisely pedigreed crown prince of one of the most tightly controlled suburbs in America.

But in Rosemont, things get done.

SO MUCH SO THAT a question has long lingered:

If Stephens had one-tenth of the land of Arlington Park — a comparatively scant 32.6 acres — available three years ago for a new Bears stadium, where would the project be today?

Answer: Probably to the finishing beams with an opening kickoff certainly no later than August 2025.

Village president Tom Hayes and fellow overseers of Arlington Heights are more restrained. They generally abide by the protocols and niceties as the gaping AP eyesore grates in the wind.

But while Arlington Heights is an efficiently run suburb, Rosemont is an aggressively governed one.

STEPHENS WOULD MOVE heaven, earth and any covenants between Churchill Downs Inc., the Bears and anyone else to get the globally prestigious new building into his crisp, lucrative fiefdom.

The stadium remains the thing. All renderings of adjacent amenities and residencies are like iced-treat concessions at a free Madonna concert in Rio. Do they really matter?

Sometimes in civic life, Napoleonic fervor and imperial decree at the top are grand accelerants.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IN THE LONG AGO DAYS of its ruling Caucus, once had elements of those but no longer does. Micro-intense village manager Rudy Hanson, who held sway from 1958 to 1984, was lord high facilitator.

Chicago — under Richard J. Daley — was the same way. Now, with rookie mayor Brandon Johnson already lost in a harrowing haze of newcomer's confusion, no more.

Warren and Johnson can shadow dance on the shores of Lake Michigan until the alewives join in.

But what the Bears stadium project needs now more than ever is a bulldozing thrust from power people versed in getting things done.

In other words, the Rosemont Way.

Even if the most recent public words of Mayor Stephens on the matter can only make seasoned observers sardonically chuckle.


Betting a pro golf tournament is about as precise a science as counting crows on a passing freight train. But a dandy pick in this week's PGA Championship is young Akshay Bhatia. The 22-year-old is in rhythm, focused and keenly familiar with Valhalla, the sparkling layout in east Louisville. Plus, the prices are right: 100-1 to win, 22-1 for top 5, 9-1 for top 10 and 7-2 for top 20. …

Terrence Shannon Jr., the former Illinois basketball star, spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since being charged with rape last December in Kansas. The session came as part of The NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Predictably, Shannon could not say much about the matter. Interest is growing in recent attempts by Douglas County, Kan. authorities to suspend the law license of prosecuting district attorney Suzanne Valdez in an unrelated matter. His trial is scheduled for June 10. …

The NFL will release its full 272-game schedule Wednesday (7 p.m., NFL Network and all). News that Tom Brady — Fox's $375M man — will make his regular-season debut analyzing Dallas at Cleveland (-1) late Sunday afternoon, Sept. 8, drew mild interest. The network could juice Brady's unveiling by adding roast queen Nikki Glaser to the booth after the first quarter. …

Soft-brained Jason Kelce officially joined the tin foil helmets with his recent podcast claim that Secretariat ran on steroids while winning the Triple Crown in 1973. (There's no proof that either Big Red or Woodward and Bernstein were on the banned substance that year.) Sometimes it's best for natives of suburban Cleveland to keep their outta space thoughts to themselves. …

Informed speculation that John Jurkovic of Chicago's failing AM-1000 is making more money than any on-air workers at AM-670 is ruffling tender egos at “The Score.” But the reality is that there is no buyer's market for any remaining “talent” at either local languid sports talker. …

Ken McPeek — who'll send out Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan in Saturday's Preakness — was assembling a group three years ago to make a bid on Arlington Park. But he dropped his efforts once bluegrass sources correctly speculated that Churchill Downs Inc. was going to cut a convenient “purchase agreement” with the Bears. McPeek is not in the habit of entering races he can't win. …

It's safe to say that the NBA and its broadcast partners really want Jalen Brunson and all of those New York echoes to get past the Pacers and face Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. Maybe Caitlin Clark will crossover and join the depleted Knicks for Game 6 at Indy Friday night (ESPN). …

And rooting realist John Barton, on the stated desire of Caleb Williams to win 8 Super Bowls for the Bears: “At this point, I'll take a good opening drive against a second-string defense in a preseason game.”

Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Wednesday. Reach him at All communications may be considered for publication.

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