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Apr 25, 2024 12:06 am

Bears lay out controversial $5B stadium proposal

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The Chicago Bears are looking to build a new stadium, and they need nearly $5 billion to do so — but not everyone is in favor of the plan.

Chicago released a proposal for a domed stadium on Wednesday, with $3.2 billion earmarked for the stadium itself and another $1.5 billion for infrastructure.

The team announced that it would put more than $2 billion toward the stadium project. According to the Chicago Tribune, to make up the rest, the Bears would seek $300 million from the NFL and would ask the state of Illinois to borrow $900 million, which would be paid back by Chicago’s 2 percent hotel tax.

The plan didn’t sit well with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“I remain skeptical about this proposal, and I wonder whether it’s a good deal for the taxpayers,” Pritzker said. “There are a lot of priorities that the state has, and I’m not sure that this is among the highest priorities for taxpayers.”

Non-profit group Friends of the Parks, which focuses on Chicago’s Lakefront Protection ordinance, also criticized the plan, writing in a statement, “As is so often the case in Chicago, the powerful and wealthy are demanding that our entire city stop and fast track their plans to expand operations on the people’s lakefront.”

However, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson attended the Bears’ press conference announcing the proposal, which he called a “crown jewel.” He added, “This project will result in no new taxes on the residents of Chicago.”

The Bears’ new home would be located on the edge of Lake Michigan — just like Soldier Field, Chicago’s current stadium — and would add green and open space to the city’s lakefront while also providing better access to the Museum Campus.

“This is an incredibly, incredibly special day for the Chicago Bears,” Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren said in a statement on Wednesday. “For the City of Chicago, for the state of Illinois, for our ownership, for our players, for our coaches, for our staff members, for the alumni and for our incredible Chicago Bear fans.

“Today is about progress, and one of the things that I am most excited about today is the fact that this shows that in this city we have the intellectual capabilities, we have the heart, we have the passion, we have the foresight, we have the wisdom, we have the vision to do big things.”

In addition to 14 acres of athletic fields for youth sports programs and park space for the general public, there could also be a publicly owned hotel near the site of the new stadium.

Fans would get to experience attractions indoors and outdoors, and there would also be a plaza that features restaurants and retail stores.

“This is not an easy project, but Chicago doesn’t like it easy,” Warren said.

–Field Level Media

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