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Bears flirt with building on lakefront?

No folks, the Bears aren't staying downtown. Their customers live in the suburbs and they didn't spend $300 million on a piece of Arl Heights land to whistle Dixie.


They're simply negotiating taxes with the Village of Arlington Heights who came in with a proposal to charge an arm/leg. Of course, Arl Hts will fold and work something out that the Bears can live with. Why, because they have no good options. Sure they can allow some residential developer to build a gazzilion homes which will overburden the existing school system and be a political red herring...but that ain't going to happen.


No, we're getting the Bears (no matter how bad they suck as a team...and that's pretty bad).


Bears flirt with building on lakefront

A drone image of Soldier Field with the Chicago skyline in 2020. Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Bears may be looking to break long-standing Chicago law to build a new stadium on the lakefront.


What's happening: Late last week, The Score reported that the Bears were eyeing the south parking lots of Soldier Field as a potential location for a new stadium, per sources.

Yes, but: The Bears don't own that land and it's unclear if they'd legally be allowed to build there.


The intrigue: The location is the same one the city tried to green-light for the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in 2014. Friends of the Park sued the city, citing the age-old precedent that private business can't build on the lakefront. A federal court signaled the suit had merit before George Lucas withdrew his plans.


"No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot," Lucas famously said in 2016.


What they're saying: The Bears would not confirm the new report, telling Axios they "want to explore all opportunities across Chicagoland for the development of a world-class stadium."


The other side: Friends of the Park opposes the new idea for a Bears stadium and, according to Crain's, is gearing up for another fight.


Of note: As this new stadium report was being circulated, Juanita Irizarry announced she was stepping down as the head of Friends of the Park.


Context: Soldier Field is on the lakefront, but it's owned by the Park District. Just last year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to woo the Bears to stay with grandiose renovation plans.

But the city stopped short of offering up a new location on the lakefront for the Bears to build and, more importantly, own a new stadium.


While Lightfoot and the Bears were standoffish in their communication, Mayor Brandon Johnson has cited productive conversations with the Bears since he took office.

Johnson's office has not responded to requests for comment.


What we're watching: The Bears are still under contract at Soldier Field and also own Arlington Park, which has long been considered the front-runner for the team's relocation plans.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: Chicago has a love/hate relationship with private entities using public land (long live Daniel Burnham), but the Bears already play on the lakefront. Should the city give them public space to build a private stadium?


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