The list of potential home cities for the Chicago Bears continues to grow, but perhaps leaves the NFL team no closer to a definitive stadium solution.
Suburban Waukegan, Illinois — located near the Wisconsin border and about 45 miles from downtown Chicago — is the latest municipality to publicly convey interest in having a new Bears stadium, joining fellow suburbs Arlington Heights and Naperville along with the city of Chicago.
Like the other towns, Waukegan seeks to have a domed stadium and entertainment district that could host a wide range of events beyond Bears games. The entire project had been pegged at $5 billion at Arlington Heights.
“We believe the Monsters of the Midway deserve the opportunity to continue the tradition of playing along the shores of Lake Michigan,” wrote Waukegan mayor Ann Taylor in a letter to the Bears.
The heightened stadium interest from various parts of greater Chicago stems in part from the Bears saying a seemingly inevitable move to Arlington Heights is now “at risk” amid a tax dispute there. Bears officials said they have a “responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland,” including Waukegan.
The Waukegan entry, however, presents challenges. No NFL stadium would be further from its home market downtown, beating the roughly 40 miles from the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium to downtown San Francisco. And like in Naperville, there are no concrete plans how land parcels could be assembled to match the 326 acres the Bears purchased for $197.2 million at the former Arlington International Racecourse.