Apr 30, 2024 - News

Chicago Bears take stadium plan to Springfield

Rendering of a proposed stadium with a park attached

Rendering provided by Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears' proposed stadium deal isn't sitting well with lawmakers in Springfield.

Why it matters: The Bears want the state to kick in over $1 billion to offset costs for a new stadium on the Museum Campus.

The latest: The Bears will pitch Governor Pritzker's office Wednesday, according to Crain's.

By the numbers: One state official is concerned the proposal could cost over a billion dollars more than the $4.7 billion price tag the Bears pitched last week.

  • Yes, but: Most of the alleged extra costs would be for infrastructure improvements and amenities that the city wants included in the proposal.

Who's in: Mayor Brandon Johnson. The Chicago Teachers Union hasn't said it publicly supports the plan, but leaders attended last week's press conference.

Friction point: Johnson's progressive political allies might not be aligned, as they usually frown upon subsidizing sports stadiums.

  • Johnson said no new city taxes would be used and he won't ask City Council to chip in.

Between the lines: Johnson also wants his administration and the Bears to be "on the same page" before officially engaging state lawmakers. Only $325 million goes to the new stadium under the proposal, while the rest of the costs are for infrastructure, school facilities and new public green spaces.

  • Those are all things the mayor is advocating for.

Who's out: So far, Gov. JB Pritzker. The governor threw cold water on the plan, while his spokesperson argued that they need to see more benefit for taxpayers before using public money.

  • Both Speaker of the House Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon have publicly shown skepticism.
  • Politically, Pritzker runs the show in Springfield. If he likes the proposal, the majority Democrat chambers would follow suit.

Follow the money: The Bears want the Illinois Sports Facility Authority to issue over a billion dollars in new debt, which would be repaid over 40 years.

  • The proposal also calls for the Bears to refinance and pay off the existing debt from both the Soldier Field renovation and the White Sox stadium to clear room for new borrowing.
  • This would mean the White Sox nor the Red Stars soccer team, both in search of new stadiums, would be able to get state funding.

What's next: The Bears signaled they want to get funding approved by the General Assembly in the spring session, which ends May 24.


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