Sources: New lakefront Bears stadium to be announced during Wednesday news conference

Sources: New lakefront Bears stadium to be announced during Wednesday news conference

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears are set to unveil plans for a new lakefront stadium at a news conference at Soldier Field on Wednesday.

The team has released few details but said the plan will lay out a state-of-the-art enclosed stadium that will also feature additional open green space on the Museum Campus, with access to the lakefront.

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“It’s really brilliant timing on the part of the Bears,” Sportscorp Ltd. President Marc Ganis said.

The announcement will come just a day before the first round of the NFL Draft, in which the Bears have the No. 1 overall pick, with which they’re expected to use on quarterback Caleb Williams out of USC. The Bears also have the No. 9 overall pick Thursday.

Experts like Ganis say the timing of a new lakefront stadium announcement is no coincidence.

“That’s also the opportunity for the Bears to tell the country, and the country to tell Chicago and Illinois, all of the benefits that might very well come from having this stadium on the lakefront in Chicago,” Ganis said.

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WGN-TV has learned that Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is planning on attending the announcement. Just last week, Johnson noted that the city’s talks with the team seemed to be headed in the right direction.

“These conversations, particularly with the Bears, have been quite positive. I appreciate the leadership of Kevin Warren,” Johnson said.

Warren told WGN’s Jarrett Payton why the lakefront is so important to the Bears.

“We need to make sure it’s close to the lakefront, because I think that’s what brings it all together. I always think about, you know, those money shots on Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, hosting the Super Bowl,” Warren said in an interview back in February.

But money remains a big question. The Bears are planning on a publicly owned stadium, and the team had previously said it would contribute $2 billion.

“I don’t think the public is looking for the state government to be the significant funder of a new stadium,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said.

Some state leaders seem to be less than thrilled by the idea.

“There’s next to no appetite to fund a new stadium with taxpayer dollars,” President of the Illinois Senate Don Harmon said.

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In the city, however, Mayor Johnson said that there has to be public benefit and public use.

Whether or not the Bears meet that standard will be revealed a day before the team enters the national spotlight during the draft.

“Those that want to see this happen and feel that there is public benefit that overcomes the objections need to use everything in their playbook that they possibly can,” Ganis said.

Another major factor is the advocacy group Friends of the Parks, which has blocked previous development on the lakefront.

The group has met with the team, but as of Monday night, there has been no response on the plans.

If the team moves forward with the new plans, it would put an end to the prospect of the Bears moving to the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, which was purchased by the team in 2023.

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