Despite no shortage of suburban suitors, the Chicago Bears could ultimately stay in the city — and mayor Brandon Johnson is newly optimistic they’ll do just that.
“As they continue to produce good conversations, of course the expectation is the opportunity to figure out how we can actually allow our ends to meet collectively,” he told Crain’s Chicago Business. “Are we there yet? No. Are we moving in that direction in earnest? That’s what’s happening.”
Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren said the team plans to have “regular dialogue with Mayor Johnson” and added that the Bears have “embraced productive discussions since our first meeting.”
Johnson has made keeping the Bears a priority since taking office earlier this year.
A tax dispute with Arlington Heights — where the Bears own the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse — has kept the team from beginning construction on a new stadium in the Chicago suburb. Since then, Aurora, Naperville, Richton Park, and Waukegan have all thrown their hats in the ring to host the Bears.
If the Bears were to stay in Chicago proper, it would likely require a serious upgrade to Soldier Field — or a new stadium. Johnson’s predecessor, Lori Lightfoot, previously pitched the idea of adding a dome to the classic venue.