Lightfoot’s play to keep Bears could cost up to $2,000 per family
The Chicago Bears are considering a move to Arlington Heights, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pitching a last-ditch effort to revamp Soldier Field. Depending on the option, the tax hit per household ranges from $833 to $2,036.
Before the Chicago Bears pack their bags for a new stadium, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s pitch to keep them in the city comes with a price tag for taxpayers: $833 on the low end, or $2,036 on the high.
Lightfoot laid out three options for expanding Soldier Field: adding a dome, making it dome ready and renovating the stadium into a multipurpose facility ideal for other events. The dome is the most expensive, costing roughly $2.2 billion while the multipurpose approach would be closer to $900 million.
Lightfoot didn’t mention the direct cost to taxpayers, who are still on the hook for $415 million in renovations to Soldier Field in 2002 that has yet to be paid back. If taxpayers foot the entire bill for another renovation, each Chicago household can expect to pay anywhere from $833 to $2,036, according to an Illinois Policy Institute analysis.
Despite the Bears playing in the third-largest NFL market, Solider Field is the smallest stadium in the league. As a result, the Bears are eyeing Arlington Heights to build a new stadium. They’ve repeatedly told Lightfoot their intention is to leave the city.
“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park,” a spokesperson for the Bears said in a statement.
Even if the Bears leave, Lightfoot could still pursue the multipurpose facility catering to the Chicago Fire FC and year-round live music.
While the Bears may or may not be listening to her pitch, or may be angling for a better deal, Lightfoot also needs to win over Chicagoans before the February election. That would be a tougher play as the mayor who lost the Bears.