Suburban Chicago community promotes itself as the 'natural choice' for new Bears

V. Carbonneau
June 11, 2024  (0:44)

Bears potential new stadium
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As the Chicago Bears face skepticism over their plans to build a new stadium on the city's lakefront, a suburb is once again making its case to be their new home.

In an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune, Aurora officials assert they are the «natural choice» to host the team and promise to roll out the red carpet for the Monsters of the Midway.
«Our city's vision and professional know-how make Aurora the natural choice for the Bears' next era,» the op-ed stated. «Instead of negotiating with local and state officials over funding for a new lakefront stadium in Chicago, we're poised to immediately welcome the Bears' storied franchise to the City of Lights.»
The op-ed was authored by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, State Sen. Linda Holmes, State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, and Naperville Township Assessor Matt Rasche.
These overtures come as the Bears face an uphill battle to secure public financing for a proposed stadium on Lake Michigan's shores. Lawmakers opted not to pursue a deal during their spring session in Springfield, and many remain skeptical that such financing would be politically feasible even after the 2024 elections.
«As we've told the Bears, the White Sox, and the Chicago Red Stars, there's just no appetite to use taxpayer funding for stadiums for billionaires. Even after the election,» House Speaker Emmanuel «Chris» Welch told WTTW earlier this month.
The Bears and the NFL are expected to contribute around $2 billion towards the project, which would construct a new domed stadium just south of Soldier Field's current location. The team seeks approximately $2 billion in public funding for various project elements, something Gov. J.B. Pritzker called «a non-starter» earlier this year.
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon also expressed skepticism.
«At first glance, more than $2 billion in private funding is better than zero and a more credible opening offer. But there's an obvious, substantial gap remaining, and I echo the governor's skepticism,» Harmon said in an April statement.
In February 2023, the Bears purchased the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse for nearly $200 million. They sought «property tax certainty» and other concessions in negotiations with Arlington Heights officials but failed to reach agreements.
As those negotiations stalled, the Bears turned their attention back to Chicago, releasing plans in April 2024 for a new stadium on the lakefront.
In addition to pushback from lawmakers, community groups like Friends of the Parks have also raised concerns about the plan, insisting that development on the lakefront must ensure public access and use of the property.
«As it stands, (the plan) still feels a little vague, but we always come back to public use,» FOTP executive director Gin Kilgore told NBC Chicago. «Is this a real public benefit? And does it meet our expectations? We wouldn't be having this conversation if people hadn't fought hard to keep private development off the lakefront. That's what it always is going to come back to for us.»
The Bears' current lease at Soldier Field runs through the end of the 2033 season.
11 JUNE   |   31 ANSWERS
Suburban Chicago community promotes itself as the 'natural choice' for new Bears

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