Chicago Bears to announce plans Wednesday for new domed stadium on lakefront

The Chicago Bears have set noon Wednesday to announce plans for a new domed stadium on the lakefront.

Team officials will make the announcement at Soldier Field, which would be demolished under the proposal.

In what will be a busy week for the team, the announcement will come one day before the Bears are scheduled to make the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

The team said it plans to present a “state-of-the-art, publicly owned enclosed stadium, along with additional green and open space with access to the lakefront for families and fans, on the Museum Campus.”

The team has pledged to spend $2 billion in private money for the project. The cost of the stadium is estimated at $2.5 billion to $3 billion, plus $1 billion for associated roads and other infrastructure.

The crucial question is how any taxpayer cost would be funded, and whether city and state lawmakers would approve that. Taxpayers were still on the hook for $631 million for Soldier Field debt as of last year.

The new site would be on what are now parking lots just south of Soldier Field. The colonnades from the old structure would be saved. The proposal is believed to potentially include a hotel and improved access to and from DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

The Bears bought the former Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights for $197 million last year, and announced plans for a $5 billion mixed-use development with a stadium, housing and entertainment. But the team switched focus back to Chicago this year after property tax negotiations with local school districts broke down.

Several other communities, including Naperville and Aurora, also expressed interest in luring the Bears.

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office declined to comment Monday, but he has recently spoken about having promising conversations with Warren and hinted at unspecified benefits that Chicago would reap from the team’s continued presence downtown.

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During an unrelated news conference last Wednesday, the mayor again said “ownership has to put some skin in the game” when asked about the ongoing jockeying for new stadiums by the Bears as well as other Chicago sports teams such as the White Sox. He also maintained there would be no new taxes to help out the franchises.

“If we’re going to build 21st century stadiums, we have to make sure that that investment is activating the entire city of Chicago, and these conversations particularly with the Bears have been quite positive,” Johnson said. “I appreciate the leadership of Kevin Warren. … But no, we have not made any commitments to any new forms of revenue.”

The last part of his statement was in response to a question about a rejected proposal from the White Sox, first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, to use part of the amusement tax to fund new stadiums for the Bears and White Sox, to which Johnson on Wednesday said, “We didn’t like the idea, it was that simple.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he is not inclined to spend public money on a private business.

Tribune reporter Alice Yin contributed.