Bears Stadium

How Bears plan to fund Chicago stadium project, and how much it will cost taxpayers

Getting down to the bottom line for a potential Bears stadium project in Chicago

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears announced how they plan to fund a potential new stadium project in Chicago, and how much they believe it will cost.

Bears COO and executive vice president of stadium development Karen Murphy said in a presentation on Wednesday that the team expects the entire stadium project to cost $4.7 billion: $3.2 for the stadium itself and just over $300 million for the infrastructure required to open it, then $1.2 billion for two other phases of development.

Last month, the team confirmed it would contribute $2 billion dollars to fund the majority of the project. On Wednesday, a slide in the presentation clarified that number would be closer to $2.025 billion dollars. After that, the team would look to an NFL stadium program for a $300 million loan. That leaves a $900 million gap for the stadium financing itself. The Bears plan has them looking to a bond mechanism in the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority program to make up the difference.

The Bears said a 2% hotel tax that is already in place for the ISFA should be able to make up the $900 million they need from public funds.

There wasn’t a clear answer as to where the team would get the $300 million for the infrastructure, however. Murphy said the team is still working with the state and looking into different funding sources.

If the team gets the public funding needed to open the stadium, they said there will be two more phases of development requiring public money: one to maximize infrastructure for the stadium and surrounding campus totaling $510 million, and another phase for “optional infrastructure to enhance the campus, improve circulation, and maximize public economic benefits,” totaling $665 million. Add up all three phases plus the IFSA funding, and it's nearly $2.4 billion in public money.

Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson said on Wednesday that the Bears’ new plan to build a stadium in Chicago will not raise taxes on city residents.

“I’m going to repeat that one more time to make sure that everybody gets it,” Johnson said after the announcement. “This project will result in no new taxes on the residents of Chicago.”

It's still not clear where some of the funding will come from. Additionally, the Bears indicated they could potentially look for city money as well as state and federal dollars.

The Bears bought 326 acres of land in Arlington Heights last year, and previously announced plans to build a new stadium there. But contentious negotiations about property taxes in the suburbs have become an obstacle for that plan. Earlier this year the team said it was switching its focus away from Arlington Heights back to the city.

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