Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Analyst Says Recent Shift In Chicago Bears Stadium Plans Is No Accident


For months, it felt like the Chicago Bears were on a course toward establishing a new stadium in Arlington Heights. They purchased the property of Arlington Racecourse Internation for $197 million. Its 326 acres were perfect for establishing a new revenue-generating landmark built around a state-of-the-art stadium for their team. Then, a few months ago, things seemed to take a shift. Cook County politicians and other groups tried to strongarm the Bears into less favorable property taxes. Yet rather than work through the problem, it appears team president Kevin Warren called a halt to negotiations entirely.

Around that same time, he announced recent communications with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson that had gone well. Since then, Warren has spoken highly of those meetings at every opportunity. Things had taken a significant shift away from Arlington Heights entirely. While nobody can say for certain, it now seems like the Bears president is determined to make a new stadium in the city work. One person not surprised by this is ESPN analyst Michael Wilbon. He told Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 that this development was easy to see coming.

He’s even more confident about it now than he was before.

This is my opinion based on what I hear, what I feel, and by the way, remember this. I live in a place (Washington D.C.) where there’s also a stadium issue and a stadium that’s going to be built. They’re moving out of the stadium that’s the equivalent of Arlington Heights (FedEx Field) to move back into an iconic location in the city. And let me just say to you. The NFL has preferences. If you guys think that their preference is Arlington Heights or Palatine or anywhere else except for the city of Chicago…then you’d be stupid to think that.”

“My opinion always has been that the Bears need to be and need to figure out a way, along with the city and the park district, to make it work in Chicago on the lakefront.”

The Chicago Bears might be getting pressured to change plans.

The NFL already has several teams playing outside their downtown city locations. Both Los Angeles and New York teams do so. The 49ers, Dolphins, Cowboys, Bills, and Commanders also do so. It isn’t crazy to think the league would prefer to lose another premium downtown stadium for an unremarkable suburb. Perhaps they’re encouraging the Bears to try making it work with the city. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the one primarily responsible for letting the Soldier Field situation fall apart, is gone. Her replacement, Johnson, appears open to discussions.

Warren already seems open to the idea. It would be a major victory for both sides if they could negotiate a deal that nets the Chicago Bears a new stadium on the lakefront. The obvious caveat would be that they own the building rather than the Chicago Park District. That is what started this entire mess in the first place. Warren said he’d like to get clarification on the stadium issue within the next year. Wilbon sounds more certain than ever that it will end up being somewhere in downtown Chicago.

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Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper
Sep 16, 2023 10:59 am

Well if things still operate in Chicago as far back as I can remember, Warren is getting personal treatment.

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