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Bears focus stadium plans on Chicago but costs are a concern

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(The Center Square) – The Chicago Bears are pushing for a new downtown stadium, but the price tag could rise quickly with inflation.

Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren said plans and renderings will be coming soon for a proposed fixed-roof stadium near Lake Michigan. Although the Bears own land in Arlington Heights, Warren said he believes Chicago is the greatest city in the world.

“When you have that combination of the museum, the lakefront, the beach, the architecture and, most of all, what makes Chicago special is the people,” Warren said at recent NFL meetings in Orlando.

Inflation could lead to a much higher price tag for the project. Warren said the Bears’ biggest concern right now is the escalation of costs.

“And we’ve even received information back that, every year that we don’t finalize a stadium, that the cost will go up anywhere between $150 [million] and $200 million,” Warren said.

The Bears promised to invest more than $2 billion dollars in the project, but they have not released an estimate for the total cost.

Warren said the Bears are focused on having a fixed-roof stadium at the museum campus on Chicago’s lakefront. The team had purchased the site of the former Arlington Park race course in Arlington Heights. Warren did not say what the Bears will do with that property.

“We’re putting our energy to downtown Chicago, to the museum campus, just from an energy and resource standpoint,” he said. “ So, we still own the land. We’re the largest land owner. We’ll stay in communication with Arlington Heights but the focus now has to be on Chicago to give us the best opportunity for success.”

Warren also has not said how much money the Bears plan to ask for from the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the state of Illinois.

Earlier this year, John Mozena of the Center for Economic Accountability warned that, according to most economists, sports stadiums are a terrible investment for taxpayers.

“You see those wonderful stadium renderings. Somehow the stadiums never end up looking as cool as they do in the renderings, and sometimes the development never ended up looking anywhere near what it promised to be by the folks who are looking for taxpayer dollars,” Mozena said.

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