Bears President Still Upbeat About Future of Stadium Project

As Bears get set to report for training camp July 19, the future regarding a stadium will remain uncertain but Kevin Warren is still optimistic it can get done.
Bears president Kevin Warren remains upbeat about getting a future stadium deal done after the bill died in Springfield.
Bears president Kevin Warren remains upbeat about getting a future stadium deal done after the bill died in Springfield. / Photo: Chicago Bears video
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Bears president Kevin Warren didn't get to announce a stadium deal at the Lincoln Forum Tuesday, like he would have wanted.

Instead, there came forth only unbridled optimism about this season, which will start when players report July 19 for training camp, and also about eventually getting a stadium deal done on the lakefront sometime in the future.

During the forum and interview with Fox Sports' Lou Canellis, Warren seemed to roll with the legislative punches when it came to the stadium project.

No vote was taken during the legislative session in Springfield to help out with about $900 million in costs through the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority or for any other related expenses. He's still hopeful the project construction can begin in 2025, although no specific reason for the positivity was given.

The project sits dormant for now, just like the Arlington International Racecourse property the Bears own, where they could build a stadium if nothing occurs on the lakefront. The Bears have said they can handle $2.3 billion in costs for the indoor stadium but it will require more, especially for infrastructure.

"I don't think I've ever been disappointed in anything," Warren said. "I understand these are big projects. They take time energy and effort to come together. They're expensive. You have to have foresight, you have to have vision, you have to have wisdom."

Warren said he understood there are more pressing needs, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker had called the stadium project funding a non-starter.

"I mean, I understand this is part of the process but I strongly believe, you know, we need a new stadium obviously for Chicago to have never hosted a Super Bowl a Final Four, a college football playoff," Warren said.

Warren said Chicago is not growing, overall, and pointed to the number of cranes they have in the city. He claimed there are eight "in the air."

"A place like Nashville has 45, Seattle 45, Toronto, which is a city that's very similarly sized to Chicago, has 38. So if you don't have craned that means you're not building. If you're not building, you're not growing. If you're not growing, you fall behind." 

Warren had less trouble getting a stadium project moving in Minnesota.

"We live in a complicated world," he said. "This is an election year. I mean, we have people who don't have meals to eat. We we have people sleeping on the street. We have a lot of complex issues that we are dealing with.

"So I'm a realist to understand, you know, these these projects are not something you do just over a weekend. That's one of the reasons why you sign 30- and 40-year leases to make that commitment. But I will say I've seen what a stadium project will do for a city, a state and even as the Chicago Bears, as we get better as a football teamm, the NFL gets better and so it  is just important that our people here recognize of what a stadium project will do for this city for our surrounding areas for the state of Illinois for the National Football League."

Warren said he's up for the challenge of the stadium and other aspects of his role as team president.

"I can say this: I would not hae accepted this job if this was a playoff team, if they had solved the stadium issue, if everything was in order," he said. "I mean, I wanted it to be the most difficult mountain to climb in my career."

Warren sounded a great deal like someone who wouldn't be ready to change coaches after this season, barring a total collapse by the team. He had nothing but praise for Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles, and referred back to last January when he said Eberflus would be back.

"I had to make it very clear there's no business that I'm aware of that is credible, that has staying power that you can build in 22 months," Warren said. "And Ryan, Matt had only been in the building, you know, even at that time 22 months—less than two years," he said. "But I think what you find out is when you allow people to come together and really work hard and carry out their Vision, you know, good things happen."

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Gene Chamberlain

GENE CHAMBERLAIN

BearDigest.com publisher Gene Chamberlain has covered the Chicago Bears full time as a beat writer since 1994 and prior to this on a part-time basis for 10 years. He covered the Bears as a beat writer for Suburban Chicago Newspapers, the Daily Southtown, Copley News Service and has been a contributor for the Daily Herald, the Associated Press, Bear Report, CBS Sports.com and The Sporting News. He also has worked a prep sports writer for Tribune Newspapers and Sun-Times newspapers.