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Chicago Bears reopen talks with city for new indoor stadium

With the product on the field a work in progress, Chicago Bears fans have perhaps a little more cause for optimism with things off the field.

Bears President Kevin Warren said in a letter to season-ticket holders that the team has reopened discussions with the city about building a new indoor stadium downtown, Front Office Sports reported.

That plan was thought to be dead, the outlet reported.

Mayor Brandon Johnson and Warren had been exploring potential stadium sites in Chicago, as the Bears look to move on from Soldier Field, where they’ve played for almost a century, Crain’s reported.

The team appeared locked in to building a $5 billion stadium district in Arlington Heights when it finalized a deal to pay $197 million for the former Arlington International Racecourse in February and began its demolition shortly thereafter. However, the Bears were forced to look elsewhere after being hit with a $197 million property tax reassessment and have since explored sites in other suburbs, including Naperville.

Warren said in the letter that suburban sites were still in play, but the main focus was to keep the team within city limits, Front Office Sports said.

Johnson, for his part, has made a significant effort to keep the Bears in Chicago. One major challenge, however, is finding enough acreage for a potential entertainment district along with a stadium, like the team was planning in Arlington Heights. 

Developer Bob Dunn of Landmark Development proposed revamping Soldier Field as part of his One Central megadevelopment proposal just west of the existing stadium. But the Bears haven’t expressed interest in staying at its long-time home, and Dunn’s overall plan requires $6.5 billion in state subsidies to fund work on the commuter railway station and tracks that would be incorporated into the project.

Warren’s letter to fans was sent just before the Bears kickoff their 2023-24 season on Sunday against their archrival, the Green Bay Packers. Last year the Bears had the league’s worst record and the most losses in franchise history (3-14) as the offense struggled with a young quarterback in Justin Fields. This year, experts predict the Bears will be more competitive, but will likely still have a losing record.

Ted Glanzer

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