Chicago mayor and Bears president meet again: New city stadium sites still on the table?
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren met this week reportedly to discuss other potential stadium sites in the city.
The Wednesday meeting at city hall followed an introductory video call on June 7. Crain's Chicago Business and ABC 7 Chicago reported that stadium locations were part of the conversation. But a joint statement from the mayor and team president released Thursday afternoon didn't include details.
"We continued our productive discussion this week that began in early June," the statement said. "We plan to have regular dialogue with each other and across our respective staffs as we work together to meet the needs of the citizens of Chicago and Bears fans."
Officials didn't disclose which sites are being considered. But one of the possible locations long envisioned for a new Bears stadium is the sprawling former U.S. Steel South Works site along Lake Michigan between 79th and 87th streets.
At more than 400 acres, it is larger than the 326-acre Arlington Park property the Bears purchased in Arlington Heights.
Other possible locations large enough to host an NFL stadium include "The 78" megadevelopment along the south branch of the Chicago River, where a University of Illinois-led research institute is proposed on 62 acres.
Others have suggested land just south of the Bears' current Soldier Field home that includes Lakeside Center and McCormick Place, which has been eyed for redevelopment.
It's unknown whether former Mayor Lori Lightfoot's $2.2 billion proposal to put a dome on Soldier Field and make other upgrades is still on the table.
Warren's second meeting with Chicago's mayor comes after officials in South suburban Richton Park were the latest to court the Bears this week. The overture followed pitches by mayors in Naperville, Aurora and Waukegan.
Though demolition on the old racetrack grandstand continues, the Bears have said Arlington Park is no longer its "singular focus" as a location for a new stadium amid an ongoing dispute with area school districts over property tax assessments and payments.
Arlington Heights officials said Thursday they've had discussions with stakeholders in recent weeks "with the goal of resolving current issues so that the process can move ahead." That's included talks with Bears brass and leaders from local school districts -- Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and Palatine Township Elementary District 15 -- "to help ensure that all perspectives are heard and understood in this process," according to a village statement.
"The village is committed to working with the Chicago Bears Football Club, our community partners, and all other stakeholders to explore this exciting opportunity for Arlington Heights and the northwest suburban region," the statement read.
For the Bears, the key to any discussions with Chicago's mayor and municipal leaders in the suburbs would not only be securing an advantageous tax deal, but also having control over the land and redevelopment so the team could gain additional revenues generated on-site. The Bears now share revenues with the city as part of its lease of Soldier Field from the Chicago Park District.
In Arlington Heights, the club has proposed a $5 billion mixed-use campus. It would be anchored by a domed stadium -- which the Bears say they would pay for -- but they're seeking public subsidies to help build the rest of it. Legislation that would allow the team to secure a massive property tax break is pending in Springfield.