Bears Stadium

When will the Bears stadium plan get underway? Here's what Kevin Warren says

Kevin Warren laid out the details for the timing of his stadium plan recently

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears have been on a long, arduous journey trying to figure out the next steps for their stadium.

They expressed their desire in September 2021 to purchase the rights to the Arlington Park property for their new stadium. But after purchasing the land for nearly $200 million in February 2023, everything has derailed from that project since its inception.

The Bears and the school districts of Arlington Heights have reached an impasse on the property's value, which has a direct correlation to how much the Bears will have to pay annually in taxes for the property. The two sides are at a standstill, and at one point were $100 million apart.

Now, the Bears' full focus is remaining in the city, but building an entirely new stadium for the club.

"All of these projects are, you know, that's a great word. They require momentum. They require vision," Warren said. "They require tenacity. They require a lot of thought and planning, but they also require momentum. And I strongly believe that we're building momentum in that museum area.

"So 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. And so when you can mix that together, you do get great momentum, but it's going to require a lot of work as we proceed forward."

MORE: Kevin Warren gives in-depth update on Bears' stadium as focus shifts to lakefront

Warren concedes the Bears have a plan they're putting the finishing touches on for the public. They've already declared their intentions to post $2 billion themselves to construct a stadium on the lakefront.

The White Sox are also trying to build a stadium in Chicago at "The 78" piece of land just outside the South Loop. They have a wrinkle in the Bears stadium situation, too, as they're trying to roll out new bonds from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. And the Bears would certainly like a piece of that pie, too.

Warren says the momentum is shifting towards the lakefront for their new stadium.

"I think over some time here in the near future, you'll see a specific plan that we're going to roll out," Warren said. "That's one of the reasons why we've been spending a large amount of time just making sure that we line everything up. ... And so it just takes time. And the biggest concern that I have right now, just with the escalation of costs, and not only in supplies, and you look at the financial markets. I mean, I watch the financial markets as much as I watch the sports markets. And just cost and infrastructure, and those things are uncertain. And so we at least have some certainty now. And we've even received information back that every year that we don't finalize the stadium, that the costs will go up anywhere between $150-200 million. So these are real dollars. And so that's one of the reasons why I am focused of having a plan, being diligent, us working together, and focusing on the importance of the time is now that we need to really pull together. And I think this also provides us a great opportunity to decide kind of who we want to be not only in Chicago but in the Chicagoland area, but the state of Illinois.

"But this is an excellent opportunity from a business standpoint, for us to be able to come together and pull together and that's one of the reasons why I would love to see the Bears work through our details to get a stadium built, and also the White Sox, and what that would do for the piece of property on the 78."

As far as the specifics, Warren says a concrete plan is on the way soon. Warren gave a broad hope to get things done in 2024.

"Our plan is here in the not too distant future to be able to get together and lay out a plan, not only with renderings but video, financial plan, so we can display it to the public," Warren said. "We're working on that here and we know that from a timing standpoint, it's important for us to finish it, so we've been working diligently every day to finalize that. We're getting close to have a plan ready to take public."

Plans have changed sporadically for the Bears in this department. As Warren acknowledged, they still own the Arlington Park property, too. But don't get it twisted, their focus is centered around remaining on the lakefront.

Asked if Arlington Heights would have a chance to make another offer if the Bears got everything in line with the lakefront idea, Warren was clear about where the Bears' new stadium would be.

"The plan will be to put a shovel in the ground on the lakefront."

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us