Are the Bears leaving Chicago? McCaskey comment sparks confusion

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Are the Bears leaving Chicago? McCaskey spurs confusion originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

While it may have seemed pretty clear that the Chicago Bears intend on leaving the city for a new stadium in Arlington Heights, Bears Chairman George McCaskey made a comment that left some fans questioning.

During the team's press conference Tuesday to introduce new President and CEO Kevin Warren, McCaskey was asked what his message was to fans who love watching the team in Chicago.

"We intend to be here for another 103 years," McCaskey said.

When taken literally, that response could be confusing, especially as Chicago continues to release plans for a proposed Soldier Field renovation that seems to be, in part, aimed at keeping the team in the Windy City.

But, with Bears leadership affirming their commitment to Arlington Park, it would seem more likely that McCaskey was referring to the Chicago area and not the city itself, with Arlington Heights being roughly 30 miles out of the city.

That was further solidified when, in the same press conference, leadership noted that they still intend to close on their deal to purchase Arlington Park this quarter.

But while the Bears anticipate closing this quarter, the team made it clear there’s a lot of work left to be done, including getting property tax certainty and locking down infrastructure funding.

“Those are the heavy lifts,” Ted Phillips said.

The Bears want to be absolutely certain they leave no stone unturned before closing, too. Considering Arlington Park is a 326-acre property, there are a lot of stones.

“The analogy I offer to people is if you’re closing on a piece of land or a house, it’s a quarter-acre lot, the title process is fairly straightforward,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said. “Usually it takes a couple of months. This site is massive. And there’s a lot to go through, both in terms of physical due diligence, entitlement due diligence and financial due diligence. That takes a long time. We want to make sure we get it right. We want to be methodical about it. We don’t want any surprises along the way.”

New President and CEO Kevin Warren also noted there was much still to be done.

“You need to plan before you start digging,” Warren said. “I think what makes U.S. Bank Stadium so special, we spent almost a year planning, and planning is critical. That’s what I appreciate about the McCaskeys, they support the planning process.  I think that will be really critical from that standpoint and I know we’re focused on Arlington Park and that stadium development project, I looked forward to leaning in to the stadium development project. But I think the biggest thing we can do is to make sure we’re methodical and detailed and we take the time to plan it properly.”

But when asked when the potential new home of the Chicago Bears could be open and ready to host football games, concerts and more, Warren didn't deflect away from Arlington Heights.

“I’ll be able to answer that question to you in about six months when I’m able to sit down and really review things,” Warren said. “It wouldn’t be proper for me to say it. I’ve got to really sit down and get the information downloaded. I’ll be able to answer that (in six months). I’d be guessing right now.”

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