Which Chicago suburb might give the Bears the best option to make money off a new stadium and development around it? Enter Naperville, the largest suburb in the region:
“We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus,” Scott Hagel, the Bears senior vice president of marketing and communications said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the state of Illinois.”…
This isn’t the first time there’s been hopes of a Bears move to the suburbs. Through the years, the Bears have considered sites in Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Aurora, Elk Grove Village and Waukegan. And once before in Arlington Heights.
Wehrli’s letter touts Naperville as accessible through major highways, such as the east-west Interstate 88 and the north-south Interstate 355, as well the city’s downtown Metra train station. There are also Metra stops in nearby Lisle and on Route 59 in Aurora.
The meeting is a major splash for Wehrli, who was elected in April and has been mayor for only a month. A lifelong Naperville resident with family roots in the community dating back to the 1840s, his letter to Warren stresses the impact an NFL stadium would have on the city.
This strategy works for the Bears because they can seek out a community that will give them a good deal on land, permits, taxes, and more. Their goal is to make money off the stadium and nearby development.
This strategy might work for individual suburbs beyond Arlington Heights. If the Bears do not come to Naperville, does the new mayor lose anything by reaching out? Even a short conversation keeps his community in the news. If the Bears come, it could be touted as a big deal. (On the other hand, just as some residents and taxing bodies in and near Arlington Heights are not thrilled about the Bears locating there, I imagine there would be some resistance in Naperville.)
Ultimately, providing public money for stadiums tends to benefit the team owners the most. Someone will host the Bears in the future but the team will end up as the biggest winner.