In his first public comments about the possibility of the Chicago Bears moving to Arlington Park, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday the future of the racetrack is a private business matter and state public funding for a potential suburban stadium isn’t being considered.
“That’s not something we’re looking at right now,” Pritzker said when asked about whether his administration would commit taxpayer dollars to help build a stadium in Arlington Heights.
“I think obviously there are private business decisions that are being made,” he continued, referring to the NFL franchise’s bid for the 326 acres Churchill Downs Inc. put up for sale in the Northwest suburb. “I’ve enjoyed many years of seeing the Bears at Soldier Field, and so you know, the determination about what will happen to that property is a matter of private concern by the sellers. But for me anyway, I have spent my adult life going to Soldier Field to watch the Bears and have enjoyed that, and I hope that I’ll be able to continue to do that.”
“But again, these are private decisions by private companies, and I think that the Mayor (Lori Lightfoot) will have much more direct input in that than I will,” Pritzker said.
The governor, flanked by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other officials, made the comments during a Monday afternoon news conference at a factory in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. Pritzker was there to tout a $500,000 state grant that was awarded to jump-start expansion of Wheaton-based The Will Group’s electrical manufacturing plant on Kilpatrick Avenue, which broke ground before Emanuel left office in 2019.
Lightfoot only hours before was at a different public event just two miles away. After the Bears’ bombshell announcement June 17 that the organization made an offer for the Arlington Park land, Lightfoot blasted it as a “negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before” amid ongoing talks over upgrades at Soldier Field. The team has a lease at the park district-owned lakefront stadium until 2033.
For his part, Emanuel didn’t take the bait of the assembled press corps to come to the open microphone and podium to talk about the issues of the day, including the possibility of the Chicago NFL franchise moving to the suburbs.
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June 28, 2021 at 04:52PM