Posts Tagged ‘Lori Lightfoot’

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday presented three options for renovating Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, but the team said it’s not interested.

Lightfoot proposed fully enclosing the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome; rebuilding both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome-ready; or modifying Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer.

“Any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

The mayor’s office estimated the costs of the three options would range from $900 million to $2.2 billion. It did not say how it would pay for any of the options.

The proposed renovations would expand seating from 61,500 seats (now the lowest capacity in the NFL) up to 70,000; increase the number of suites from 133 to 140; and quadruple concession area square footage from 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) to 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters), the mayor’s office said.

The Bears had no new comment on Lightfoot’s proposals but the team reiterated the same statement it issued July 7 when a panel appointed by Lightfoot recommended the city explore enclosing Soldier Field.

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract,” that statement said.

The team signed a purchase agreement last year for a 326-acre (131.93-hectare) site in suburban Arlington Heights, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) miles northwest of Soldier Field, that could be the site of a future stadium. President Ted Phillips has said that deal likely won’t close until early 2023, at which point the team will decide whether it’s “financially feasible to try to develop it further.”

Stadium negotiations between the city of Chicago and the Bears are getting personal.

Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips announced Thursday that the team recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, located 30 miles west of Soldier Field.

“It’s our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we’re doing what’s best for our organization and its future,” Phillips said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the move is “clearly a negotiating tactic.”

“The Bears are locked into a lease at Soldier Field until 2033. In addition, this announcement from the Bears comes in the midst of negotiations for improvements at Soldier Field,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

“As a season-ticket holder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the ‘Chicago’ name in our football team. And, like most Bears fans, we want the organization to focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally, and being relevant past October. Everything else is noise.”

Soldier Field opened in 1924. It underwent a 20-month modernization renovation that concluded in 2003.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is eager to see the Windy City serve as one of the NHL’s two hub locations.

“We’re very excited at the possibility and have really tried to make the case for why Chicago should be chosen,” Lightfoot told The Athletic’s Scott Powers. “I’m hopeful we’ll be successful.

“Although I expect the playoffs to be probably fan-less, we’re still very well-situated to accommodate the league and the players. We have plenty of hotel space and got a great culture life here. I think everything they would want to put on with a best-in-class playoff experience is here in Chicago.”

In addition to Chicago, the league is considering nine other cities for its two locations: Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.

The NHL is expected to announce its selections on June 22, according to John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Safety will be a top priority in the league’s decision, and Illinois has seen a steady dip in COVID-19 cases. The state’s seven-day rolling average has decreased by about 69% over the last three weeks, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“If I didn’t feel like we were on a downward trajectory both in terms of number of cases, new cases reported, and all the other public health metrics, I would not feel comfortable,” Lightfoot said. “But we have worked extraordinarily hard over these last three months to put us in a position – and first and foremost, our priority is our residents – that our residents would have confidence that we have engaged in a robust public health response to this deadly virus.”

The Blackhawks qualified for the league’s expanded 24-team postseason as the Western Conference’s 12th seed. They’re slated to meet the fifth-seeded Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-five play-in series for the right to advance to the first round of the playoffs.