Kevin Warren: ‘There's just something that feels right about the Bears in Chicago'

Kevin Warren: ‘There's just something that feels right about the Bears in Chicago' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Less than a year after the Bears purchased a plot of land in Arlington Heights for $197.2 million, fans were thrown for loop last month when Crain's Chicago Business reported the team was now focused on building a brand new city lakefront stadium.

A stadium in Arlington Heights has been the talk of the fanbase since the team submitted a bid to buy the land in 2021. A shift toward a new stadium in downtown Chicago seemingly began when Kevin Warren took over as president and CEO of the Bears in January 2023. Even so, the Bears went ahead with the demolition of Arlington Park in October 2023, but Warren has made it clear through various statements that other potential stadium locations were still being explored.

Warren confirmed his mild fixation with having a beautiful new stadium on the city lakefront in a recent interview with WGN's Jarrett Payton.

"The Arlington Heights property is incredible," Warren said. "I mean, anytime you have 326 acres near a major city, and now we've cleaned everything, so it's a vacant piece of land. Just a great piece of property.

"That said, to be able to have optionality with Chicago, I've made it very clear what I feel about Chicago. I think it's the finest city in the world. I can't think of another major metropolitan area that has beautiful lakefront that you can swim in that's clean near downtown. The architecture in Chicago is phenomenal. And just the history and the tradition. So [there's] just something that feels right about the Bears in Chicago."

Reports surfaced last month that the Bears were looking into the viability of Soldier Field's South Lot as a potential stadium site. Warren deflected when asked about it directly, but emphasized that securing property along the lakefront would be a non-negotiable if the Bears were to remain downtown. He also stated that there are "a handful of options" for a city stadium.

"We're still kind of running those [options] to the ground," he said. "But if we're fortunate enough, if we're able to stay in Chicago, I would just say we need to make sure that this is close to the lake from because I think that's what brings it all together.

"I always think about those money shots of Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, hosting the Super Bowl. I visualize the day that we win a Super Bowl in our stadium in Chicago, but having that view of the lake, of downtown, of that beautiful city. I think we deserve to see and explore if that's a possibility."

Warren said a decision on a new stadium location will be made in 2024.

"In a perfect world, I would like to have clarity in this legislative session is coming up," he said.

The decision to move away from Arlington Heights also has to do with an ongoing battle over property value. As it stands, the team and the surrounding school districts remain $100 million apart in their valuations of the site, according to testimony at a hearing on the dispute in January.

"I hope it comes here the next months," Warren said of a decision on a new stadium site. "It has to be this year, sooner than later, that we're able to say this is where we want to do the best we can to build. There are still some options.

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