CHICAGO – A new suburban stadium could be on the horizon for the Chicago Bears, though it appears some Illinois representatives are not quite on board with that prospect.
The Bears are highly considering a new home in the Arlington Heights suburb of Chicago, one that could pair an NFL stadium with a nearby entertainment complex. A key part of that 326-acre proposal, a PILOT tax incentive, has yet to be discussed among Illinois state lawmakers.
This would allow the Bears to “pay to Arlington Heights a negotiated sum for the property taxes,” according to the Chicago Sun Times. The report further explains mixed reactions to the proposal, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker noting he does not support public financing of a new Bears stadium.
The report offers some uncertainty as to whether the Bears might stay around Chicago long-term without an approved tax incentive to speed up the new stadium process.
Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, tells the Chicago Sun Times, “I think it needs to happen by the end of this session. If not, you’re going to start to have other states make their cases on why the Chicago Bears should be the St. Louis Bears.”
Speaking that possibility into existence, regardless how realistic it might be, is interesting for a few reasons. St. Louis was home to the NFL Cardinals from 1960-1987, after they relocated from Chicago. After a brief stint with the NFL Rams from 1995-2016, St. Louis will enter its eighth season without an NFL team this year, a longer stretch without a team than the time between the Rams’ arrival and Cardinals’ departure.
The Bears have a large backing in northern Illinois, but not allegiance to NFL teams elsewhere in the state varies, according to recent research from VividSeats.com. The Chiefs are considered the most popular team for much of the St. Louis area and Metro East counties, per Vivid Seats.
Despite Maisch’s comments, no other reports tied to Illinois officials have suggested that St. Louis could be home to the Bears or any other NFL team in the near future.