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Legislature won’t act on Bears’ stadium funding request this spring

5/28/2024 5:28:34 PM
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The Chicago Bears’ appeal for more than $2 billion in public assistance to build a new domed stadium on a reimagined lakefront is on hold until at least the fall, high-ranking Democratic lawmakers confirmed, Dan Petrella and Jeremy Gorner of The Chicago Tribune report.

With state lawmakers still grappling with the state budget after blowing their self-imposed Friday deadline, state Sen. Bill Cunningham of Chicago, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, said there would be no action on the team’s request before the legislature adjourns for the spring.

State Rep. Kam Buckner of Chicago, a member of House Democratic leadership, likewise said the team’s quest for a new home to replace aging Soldier Field, which lies in his district, isn’t on the legislative agenda in the waning days of session.

“It’s fair to say that there won’t be any Bears action … in this legislative session, which I think is fine,” Buckner said Saturday at the Illinois State Capitol. “I think a proposal of this magnitude deserves sunlight and scrutiny. And very often what has happened in this building is that things get rammed through at the last minute without much public input or transparency.

“So I welcome conversations that will probably begin to happen once we’re done here.”

Cunningham also said there would be no movement during the spring session on the Chicago White Sox requests to get public assistance for their new stadium proposal. No legislation was even formally announced during the spring session for either the Bears or the White Sox stadium proposals.

Despite the full backing of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who stood with team officials when they unveiled their proposal last month, the Bears’ plan faced a cool reception in Springfield.

It’s the second year in a row that talks about public support for the charter NFL franchise have stalled at the statehouse. A proposal last year that would have helped the team relocate to Arlington Heights also failed to gain support in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office called the team’s latest bid to stay in Chicago a “nonstarter” in its initial form, and the team’s efforts to round up support among legislative leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers were met with reactions ranging from firm and outspoken opposition to indifference.

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