Tuesday October 3, 2023

Chicago Mayor Sees ‘Pathway Forward’ To Keep Bears

  • New city leader meets with Bears president Warren
  • Renewed talks arrive as team’s plans in Arlington Heights are “at risk”
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports
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Brandon Johnson knows he has an uphill fight in keeping the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. 

But the city’s new mayor still believes there’s a way to keep the NFL team from moving to the suburbs.

Johnson, who succeeded Lori Lightfoot last month and met with Bears executives earlier this week, sees a new opening now that the team’s seemingly inevitable move to Arlington Heights is “at risk” amid a tax dispute and separate talks with neighboring Naperville.

“We want to make sure we keep shuffling here in the city of Chicago with the Bears,” Johnson said. “I want to make sure the ownership of the Bears, the Park District, and the residents of the city of Chicago have a real seat at the table to discuss a pathway forward.”

That message appears to have landed, as Johnson and Bears president Kevin Warren issued a joint statement saying they are both “committed to the idea that the city and its major civic institutions must grow and evolve together to meet the needs of the future.”

Given Chicago’s status as the country’s third-largest media market — and the Bears’ desire to bid for events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four in a new venue — the fate of the stadium project ultimately carries massive ramifications for the league, region, and sports business.

The Bears’ situation is now among the most closely watched NFL stadium development sagas after recent breakthroughs in Buffalo and Tennessee.

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