Should Chicago fight to keep the Bears? Johnson, Vallas answer


While public safety and taxation may have taken center stage at the first Chicago mayoral runoff forum, the future of the Chicago Bears was also addressed by the two men vying to be the city's next mayor.

Just weeks ago, the Bears closed on a purchase of the Arlington International Racecourse Property, which the franchise hopes will eventually serve as the home of an enclosed stadium with a multi-purpose entertainment district surrounding the proposed park.

Incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly stated her desire to keep the Bears in the city, but with her administration outgoing, both Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and CPS CEO Paul Vallas were asked how they would handle the situation.

For Vallas, the answer was quick and clear.

"I don't support billion-dollar subsidies for sports teams and I certainly don't support putting billions of dollars into renovations at Soldier Field," Vallas said.

Johnson drew on his emotional connection to the franchise, invoking memories of growing up with the Super Bowl Shuffle before iterating his desire to negotiate with the franchise while brushing off the idea of subsidizing any potential project.

"Of course, I want the Bears to stay in the City of Chicago. You know, I grew up with the Super Bowl Shuffle. We need another one in Chicago. And so I'm prepared and willing to sit down and work with the ownership," Johnson said.

"Let’s see what we can figure out. I'm asking the ownership of the Chicago Bears just to hold tight. A better, stronger, safer Chicago is possible. It gives the new administration an opportunity to make the case but of course, I won’t be subsidizing, but finding creative ways in which we can make sure that the “Super Bowl Shuffle” lives on and my son gets to see a Super Bowl in Chicago," Johnson added.

Though the Bears have purchased the Arlington Park property, a potential move to the northwest suburb is still years away.

The Bears' lease with Soldier Field runs through the 2033 season, with the franchise needing to pay the city of Chicago in order to break the lease. It remains unclear when a potential project would break ground.

While Lightfoot expressed that her administration would make every effort to keep the Bears on the lakefront, Chicago's next mayor is less enthused about crafting out a long-term solution for the iconic franchise within city limits.

For more coverage of the 2023 Chicago Mayoral Election, visit NBC Chicago

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.



Contact Us