Naperville mayor, councilman hold second meeting with Bears officials

Councilman takes part in second meeting with team

In a sign of deepening ties between the city of Naperville and the Chicago Bears, Mayor Scott Wehrli participated in a second meeting with team officials - this time with Councilman Benny White - to discuss building an NFL stadium in Naperville rather than Arlington Heights.

White said the meeting occurred Monday, just three days after Wehrli, members of the city staff and representatives from the Naperville Development Partnership met with new Bears President Kevin Warren.

Linda LaCloche, the city's director of communications, confirmed the second meeting took place Monday but did not provide additional information.

White on Thursday said the meeting was "basically a chance for me to present some of my thoughts."

He said his main concern was the increased traffic congestion in the city if a new stadium were built. Wehrli said the targeted area for a stadium would be the corridor along Interstate 88.

One speculated site is the 178-acre BP Corporate Campus on Warrenville Road north of I-88 where Herrick Road ends.

"Bringing 70,000 people here is unprecedented," White said. "We have great policies and practices in place, but there are some questions that need to be answered."

Wehrli requested the initial meeting through a letter to Warren. Wehrli noted "several available or to-be-available sites that may fit the characteristics you are looking for in your future home."

The meetings between city and Bears officials happened despite the team's purchase of 326 acres at the shuttered Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights for $197.2 million. The Bears released a statement last week saying the Arlington Heights project is "at risk" and the team is looking at additional stadium opportunities.

Despite the discussions, White stressed it's still immensely early in the process.

"If it were to go forward - and that's a big if - it goes beyond the city council," White said. "It would take stakeholders from throughout the community to provide input."

White said he also knows the Bears may be using the discussions with Naperville as leverage to negotiate better terms for an Arlington Park stadium.

"Maybe this is being used as leverage," he said. "But I'll listen."

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