Posts Tagged ‘Mayor’

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.”

NBA expansion always seems to be a trending topic near the end of every single season. The NBA has not added a new team since the Charlotte Bobcats organization back in 2004, but this has not stopped many from speculating what the future of the league is going to look like.

This past Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke to the media ahead of the start of the 2022 NBA Finals and one of the topics that was brought to his attention was the possibility of league expansion given rumors that Las Vegas and Seattle could be awarded with expansion franchises as soon as 2024 when the league’s media rights deal expires.

Silver made his intentions and that of the league very clear though, stating that these rumors are not true and that while at some point the league will expand, “it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it.”

Las Vegas has turned itself into more than just gambling and sports betting, as it has suddenly become a massive area with plenty of opportunities for investors and sports leagues. The NHL, WNBA and NFL all have successful franchises and with talks of the MLB possibly looking into moving a team to Las Vegas, the NBA could eventually follow suit.

NBA Summer League has been hosted by Las Vegas on the campus of UNLV since 2004 and with the success this has brought every single year to the area, Mayor Carolyn Goodman believes that the NBA will reach a deal with the city in the coming years to bring a new basketball franchise to Las Vegas.

“I really do believe NBA will be among the next,” Goodman told 13 Action News. “We certainly have the WNBA, that was why that was there, a sort of ‘let’s see how they do,’ and they’ve done remarkably well.”

Along with hosting Summer League in Las Vegas, Team USA basketball sets up their training camps and games there as well, giving the NBA more reason to add a Las Vegas team to their league.

At some point, the league is going to expand and as of right now, Las Vegas finds themselves in the driver’s seat to be awarded yet another professional sports franchise.

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.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is “pretty optimistic” the city will once again be home to an NBA franchise following discussions with commissioner Adam Silver.

“It is very good news for the city of Seattle that (the NBA is) thinking of an expansion team,” Durkan told KING 5.

Silver spoke in December about the possibility of revisiting plans for expanding the league beyond 30 teams after the pandemic altered the NBA’s financial outlook. However, he admitted discussions are “certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.”

Seattle has been without an NBA team since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City following the 2007-08 campaign. That decision came on the heels of a drawn-out battle between then-Mayor Greg Nickels, team owner Clay Bennett, and late commissioner David Stern.

“I think (Silver) has said publicly that Seattle is at the top of the list,” Durkan added. “Look, if there’s basketball karma, we’ll get the Sonics. If there’s economics involved, we’ll get the Sonics. If there’s just smart, what’s the best city in America, we’ll get the Sonics. So, I’m pretty optimistic.”

After Bennett failed to secure public funding for the outdated KeyArena, the team was moved to Oklahoma City. A potential venue for the SuperSonics is no longer an issue, as the renovated KeyArena – now known as the Climate Pledge Arena – is set to open its doors by late summer to host NHL expansion side Seattle Kraken and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

Sports executive Tim Leiweke, whose Oak View Group was behind the Kraken, says an additional $50 million was spent on the $1-billion-plus Climate Pledge Arena to house an NBA franchise.

“This isn’t a new market,” Leiweke said. “This is a marketplace that has led the league in attendance.”

The introduction of an expansion team requires the approval of club owners, though Leiweke believes there’s enough pedigree in Seattle basketball and NBA executives with local roots to get the thumbs up.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been linked with an expansion franchise in the city after purchasing the naming rights to the Climate Pledge Arena in June 2020 to bring attention to climate change threats. The arena vows to be the first zero-carbon one in the world. Bezos, however, has not publicly admitted any intention of becoming an owner of a team.

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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.