Column: Suuuure, give the Chicago Bears whatever they want for a new stadium after that pitch

You have to give the Chicago Bears and Mayor Brandon Johnson credit for their boldness.

Name-dropping the likes of Daniel Burnham, former President Barack Obama, Taylor Swift and Beyonce on Wednesday during their presentation of a proposed $4.6 billion stadium project was pure genius.

Highlighting the historic Soldier Field colonnades after hiding them behind the crash-landing spaceship from the previous stadium renovation while talking about the need to “respect and embrace our traditions” was gaslighting at its finest.

Informing us that “no new taxes” would be necessary to pay for the project was what everyone wanted to hear, even though public funding of at least $1 billion probably would be necessary to get a deal done.

Finally, announcing the plan the day before the Bears are expected to select quarterback Caleb Williams with the first pick in the NFL draft was a marketing coup, a much better idea than announcing it the day after another loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Everything seemed to be fine, and if the Bears get their wish, a new stadium would be ready in time for the 2028 season, when Williams should be gunning for his second Super Bowl.

After seeing the renderings and listening to Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren talk about the Super Bowls, Final Fours, Illinois high school football championships and concerts that would take place in the new stadium, how could anyone dare say no to this idea?

“If that doesn’t make your teeth chatter, I don’t know what will,” Warren said after the release of the renderings.

Obviously Warren never has sat in the stands at a Bears game in subzero weather or he would know the only thing in Chicago that would make one’s teeth chatter is watching a bad team while freezing your butt off. I have, and I can’t say it’s comparable to seeing the renderings.

Chicago Bears release images of a proposed new lakefront stadium

But they did look kind of cool, just as the renderings for the proposed White Sox Park in the South Loop looked terrific. I’m guessing the renderings of the new Comiskey Park and the Soldier Field renovation also looked cool when they were revealed, because anything new and futuristic looking is bound to appear better than the status quo.

Maybe there will even be more bathrooms, and video boards that you won’t have to crane your neck to see?

Let’s do it.

Naturally, Gov. J.B. Pritzker immediately threw cold water on the Bears’ and Johnson’s big day, saying he was “skeptical” and wondering “whether it’s a good deal for the taxpayers.” That’s the easiest way to put the kibosh on the project without actually looking into whether it would be a good thing for the city and the McCaskeys, the public and private part of the public-private venture.

Funding should not be an issue. Warren told the Tribune editorial board that the 30-year bonds for U.S. Bank Stadium, which he got built in Minnesota, were paid off 23 years ahead of schedule because of revenues from e-pull tabs, a gambling game that’s like a lottery ticket.

Editorial: The Bears may stir Chicago’s blood with splashy pitch for a lakefront stadium. We’re not convinced.

If extending the 2% hotel tax for another 40 years is a problem for Pritzker, perhaps the Bears can instead propose an added 2% tax on adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois. That should pay off the bonds for the new stadium in no time, as anyone who ever got a contact high from strolling through the tailgate parties on the Waldron Deck, the proposed site of the stadium, can attest.

The nonprofit Friends of the Park likely will try to butt in, as they did when they drove away the last billionaire who wanted to build something — a “Star Wars” themed museum — on our cherished lakefront.

But this is not an ego-driven project promoting an overrated sci-fi movie that appeals only to nerds. This is our beloved Bears, even though they’re owned by the not-so-beloved McCaskeys. Who elected these “Friends” anyways? Can’t they find something to do inside for once in their lives?

Time is of the essence, the Bears warned us, with the cost expected to go up by $150 million or so every wasted year without a shovel in the ground.

If you can’t bear the idea of helping out the billionaire McCaskeys, do it for all the kids who would benefit from what was touted as 20% more open space from the removal of the crashed spaceship and turning the current field into a park — albeit with better sod, I’m guessing.

Or think about Johnson’s inauguration ceremony at the new stadium, as he bizarrely fantasized about Wednesday during his rambling pep-rally speech that ended with the words “God bless the greatest freaking city in the world.”

That’s our mayor, an orator for the ages.

Or think about poor Beyonce not having to worry about performing in the rain, as almost happened last summer, we were informed at the presentation. Not only would the new translucent roof protect fans from dreaded “Bear weather,” it would keep pop stars such as Beyonce and Swift warm and dry.

There are so many reasons to get this done it boggles the mind, and the sooner the better before the White Sox ask for their handout.

The No. 1 reason, of course, is the possibility of a getting Super Bowl down the road.

“How many people would love to come to a Super Bowl in Chicago?” Johnson asked, before answering his own question:


A week in Chicago in February over Phoenix or Miami? It’s a no-brainer.

There were plenty of unanswered questions about financing, parking, tailgating, PSLs and whether anyone will be able to find the Uber lot after a game. The 1.4-mile walk from the Roosevelt Road “L” station would still be a half-hour to the Waldron Deck site, but maybe they’ll have room in the infrastructure budget for a people mover.

Anyway, Bears, you had me at “Fear the roar.”

So bye-bye, spaceship, and so long, Bear weather.

As Burnham said: Make no little plans when you can have a translucent roof instead.