Illinois senator proposes to create state-funded team

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Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has yet to comment on the team’s purchase of Arlington Heights.

The Chicago Bears were founded in 1920 and have never been a public team. Former owner and founder George “Papa Bear” Halas owned the team from 1921 until his death in 1983, and his daughter, Virginia Halas McCaskey, has owned the team ever since. Now, in light of recent actions taken by the team’s leadership, an Illinois senator, Robert peters, whose district includes Soldier Field, introduced a bill that would essentially make the Bears a public team.

The Bears have been playing their home games at Soldier Field since 1971, and their recent purchase of Arlington Heights Racecourse, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., fueled the idea of ​​an ongoing movement to build a larger stadium. and more fan friendly. That’s a long way off, as the team won’t be able to formally close the deal until next year at the earliest, but it seems almost inevitable at this point. That doesn’t mean he won’t meet resistance.

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Many in Chicago are not happy with the idea of ​​the bears leaving

“I’m a fan of the Bears, and I know it would be disappointing for me if the Chicago Bears moved out of the city of Chicago,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker in late September, by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I think the Bears and the City of Chicago need to settle their differences so that we end up with the Bears who remain in the city. There is something to have them in the city. … I think there is a tradition that we all feel, many of us, about the city of Chicago. Having said that, this is a private company that engages with city governments to decide what is best for them, ”added Pritzker.

The Illinois governor also noted that while he does not currently plan to find ways to use public funds to rebuild Solider Field in a bid to keep the Bears remaining, he has stopped ruling it out. .

“As to whether he would support the use of public money to sweeten the pot for the Bears – whether it’s for a new stadium or for more upgrades at Soldier Field – the governor said ‘it doesn’t is not something that we are looking at, “but he didn’t rule it out,” a Sept. 30 report by Mitchell Armentrout and Rachel Hinton from the Chicago Sun-Times revealed.

State lawmakers are divided on how to handle the situation. Representatives Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, and Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, sponsored a resolution that would “urge the General Assembly to” take all necessary steps to ensure that no state or local taxpayers’ money is not used in the construction of new professional sports stadiums ”, Sun-Times also reported.

However, an Illinois senator doesn’t want to let the Bears walk without a fight.

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Illinois Senator: Bears “owe city debt” if team leaves Chicago

The Bears signed a lease to play Soldier Field until 2033, but they could still buy back the rest and move to Arlington. Essentially, the bill introduced by Peters would prevent any professional sports franchise that plays its games in a publicly funded stadium from breaking its lease without giving local buyers the option of buying a controlling stake in the team first. . Since the Bears are playing for a publicly funded stadium, that would apply to them. So if the Bears are going to go, Peters said, the public should have their say first.

“Bears games are an extremely important part of the local economy, and the residents of Chicago have put billions of dollars in the pockets of team owners over the past fifty years,” Peters said in a statement September 30, adding:. “If the owners want to move the team, that’s fine, but they owe a debt to the city and its taxpayers, who paid for their stadium.”

This is just the latest chapter in an ongoing saga that doesn’t promise to be resolved anytime soon. If the Bears are considering a move, the way the city of Chicago deals with that will be fascinating to watch. How the team plans to pay for a new stadium if they make it to Arlington Heights will be another crucial factor here.

Stay tuned, Bears fans. This situation seems to become more and more interesting day by day.

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