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Illinois lawmakers end session without addressing funding for a new Bears stadium

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(The Center Square) – The Chicago Bears will have to wait on public assistance for a new stadium project.

The Illinois legislature, which ended spring session early Wednesday, won’t act on anything regarding a new Bears stadium until this fall at the earliest, if at all.

The Bears unveiled the project in April with a $4.7 billion price tag, which included a domed stadium and surrounding infrastructure. Illinois taxpayers would be asked to cover about $2 billion.

Bears President Kevin Warren was hoping to get shovels in the ground for the project this fall.

The team was facing an uphill battle, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker has repeatedly dismissed the idea of using taxpayer dollars to help.

“We need to be careful about how we use public dollars and a private business like a professional team, even if they are beloved by so many people, nevertheless are similar to lots of other businesses in the state,” said Pritzker.

Pritzker’s chief of staff Anne Caprara and Deputy Governor Andy Manar met with the Bears, who called it a “productive conversation.”

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson supports the project, and said the plan would result in no new taxes on the residents of the city.

The Bears weren’t the only team looking for public money from the state. The White Sox continue to explore building a new stadium, and the Chicago Red Stars women’s soccer team also are in the market for an upgrade.

Members of the Illinois House Democratic Women’s Caucus backed legislation they said highlights inequities in the women’s professional sports industry in Illinois. The recently filed legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, is designed to enhance inclusivity and ensure equitable support for both men’s and women’s sports, aligning with the state’s broader equity goals.

“This spring, we have heard a number of costly requests from some of the most successful and celebrated men’s sports franchises in our state, while women’s teams do not yet even have a seat at the table with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. House Bill 5841 will ensure that as we consider plans from men’s teams, we provide the same consideration to women’s teams,” the caucus said in a statement.

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