Jim O'Donnell: Have Kevin Warren and the Bears found their golden crowbar in Naperville?

WHEN BEARS PRESIDENT KEVIN WARREN met Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli to discuss the possibility of a new Bears stadium in the giant west suburb, the password was "leverage."

That's a commodity the McMunchkins don't have as they step up their campaign to strong-arm northwest suburban governmental entities impacted by any new development at Arlington Park.

The Bears want an array of "tax certainties" and other gift-wrapped concessions before ownership commits to building on approximately one-third of the 326 acres that housed Arlington Park.

From the side of a $5 billion sports entertainment company in which annual franchise profits are goof-proof, that's a marvelous "ask."

From the side of direct-hit communities including Arlington Heights, Palatine and Rolling Meadows, that "ask" has steadily edged toward dismissibly imperious nonsense.

A "nonstarter," as Warren might say.

AT POINT OF ENTRY, the fact remains that a preponderance of taxpayers in the critical "Arlington Triangle" don't mind if the Bears build on the obscene ruins of Arlington Park.

They just don't want any diminishment in community ambience and services, educational resourcing or one dollar of their tax monies diverted to the greater financial good of the Chicago Bears.

A parallel reality remains that on event days and nights, surface vehicular traffic from the northeast and east will be brutally disruptive.

If the Bears go elsewhere or stay at vexing Soldier Field - oh well. Generally fine quality of lives in the three suburbs will somehow go on.

THERE IS NO SWEEPING CLAMOR for an NFL franchise that periodically limps into the postseason to set up their pricey pigskin follies near Northwest Highway and Route 53.

Even Warren - who didn't exactly generate a surge from Big Ten overseers to retain his services as commissioner - appears to understand that.

Enter Wehrli, a first termer as Naperville mayor who declined to directly answer a short list of questions about the latest gambit of the Bears emailed from The Daily Herald sports & media desk.

THERE'S NOTHING OUT OF BOUNDS about Wehrli conducting "exploratory" conversations with Warren.

Maybe they can continue over tapas at the splendid Meson Sabika.

Perhaps Wehrli sincerely feels that business development and municipal imaging in Naperville would benefit from the refreshed presence of the heirs of Halas.

But the Bears might more simply advance their cause on AP land that they already own if they would produce the comprehensive studies regarding a new stadium on traffic, infrastructure and general impact as promised to area officials close to one year ago.

That's what Mayor Jim Schwantz of Palatine and Mayor Lara Sanoica of Rolling Meadows jointly requested last month.

And that "ask" remains twirling in an increasingly wayward wind.

IF THE INTENT OF WARREN, George McCaskey and affiliated pruners is to pit Arlington Heights vs. Naperville as the next home of the Chicago Bears, a whole lot of people in the Arlington Triangle are suddenly rooting for Naperville.

The more civically insecure municipality gets to supplicate to the desires of the Bears and "win."

The more confident suburb is assured of maintaining the upscale tone of its pleasant-valley populace.

"Papa Bear" George Halas understood leverage as it applied to blocking in Clark Shaughnessy's T-formation.

Kevin Warren is trying to find enough of it to get just one timorous suburban region to play the new stadium game the Bears way.

To the weak will go the spoiled.


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• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at All communications may be considered for publication.

When Bears president Kevin Warren met Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli to discuss the possibility of a new Bears stadium in the giant west suburb, the password was "leverage." Assoicated Press
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