Bears Stadium

Group warns of lawsuit in response to Bears' South Lot stadium viability survey

NBC Universal, Inc.

An advocate group for Chicago parks has responded to reports that the Chicago Bears are surveying the viability of Soldier Field's South Lot as a potential new stadium site.

The group's board chair, Bronwyn Nichols, released the following statement Wednesday on behalf of Friends of the Parks:

"The Bears' viability study about building a new structure on protected lakefront land absolutely should include dealing with a lawsuit. Friends of the Parks most certainly will continue in its historic role of fending off attempts to develop real estate on the people’s lakefront for private interests."

The Bears are using the same surveying company they used for Arlington Heights to investigate the potential of the South Lot land, according to the report. Does that mean the Bears are looking into building a new stadium on the lot? That's unclear at this point.

Soldier Field lost its historical landmark status in 2006 after making major renovations. That means, in theory, the city could tear down Soldier Field in favor of building a whole new stadium. Seeing the history and value the stadium brings to the city, however, that seems like an impossible hill to climb.

All the report tells us, at this point, is the Bears are continuing to explore their options. But since the Bears ran into tax assessment issues with Arlington Heights --- the land they purchased in February 2023 --- they've been demonstrating an open mind towards all other options.

"We had that period where we were focused on Arlington," Bears CEO/President Kevin Warren told NBC's Peter King on his podcast. "We have some issues to work on. There's a possibility there. But one of the things I promised myself and promised the McCaskeys is that I would come in and take a fresh look at what's the right thing to do.

"And if it turns out to be Arlington, it turns out to be Arlington."

MORE: Chicago Bears stadium: Where things stand with Soldier Field, Arlington Heights

The Bears have met with the city of Chicago twice. Both times, Warren and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson have released joint statements surrounding the general positivity surrounding their conversations.

Here's the latest statement from last June.

“Today we met and discussed our shared values and commitment to the City of Chicago, the importance of deep roots and the need for equitable community investment throughout the city. We are both committed to the idea that the city and its major civic institutions must grow and evolve together to meet the needs of the future. We look forward to continuing the dialogue around these shared values.”

If nothing else, know this: Warren is hoping to move the process along since coming to a crossroads with Arlington Heights. He hopes to have a firm decision on the location of the stadium soon.

"I'm hopeful that (decision comes) within the next 12 months," Warren said in August. "I always go by when a shovel goes in the ground. I believe once a shovel goes in the ground, it's probably three years."

Check back to this story for more updates.

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