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Mayor Lori Lightfoot today sounded almost resigned to moving on at Soldier Field without the Bears, at least if convincing the team to stay requires building a new stadium to accommodate the financial reality of the modern-day NFL.
Lightfoot was forced to face the possibility that the Bears will leave Chicago one day after the team upped the ante in the high-stakes negotiations by signing an agreement to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property.
Churchill Downs pegged the sale price at $197.2 million and said it anticipated closing the sale in 2022 or early 2023.
Between now and then, Lightfoot hopes to talk turkey with the Bears about what she can do within fiscal reason to expand and improve Soldier Field and maximize year-round revenues.
But if nothing short of a new, preferably-domed stadium — either in parking lots adjacent to Soldier Field or on land now occupied by McCormick Place East — will prevent the Bears from moving to Arlington Heights, the beloved Bears could be a goner.
“In a time where we’re going through a recovery from an epic economic meltdown as a result of COVID-19, we’ve got to be smart about how we spend taxpayers’ dollars and I intend to do just that. … I would love that the Bears be part of our present and our future. But we’ve got to do a deal that makes sense for us in the context of where we are. I’m always focused on our taxpayers. Always, always, always. And maximizing the value for them,” Lightfoot said.
More news you need
- Chicago Teachers Union leaders renewed their call today for beefed-up safety measures at schools across the district. For months, the union has been demanding — in writing — a set of protocols from CPS that would include widespread testing for COVID and on-site vaccine clinics.
- Six aldermen who are among the police union’s staunchest City Council supporters urged Mayor Lightfoot today to reconsider her vaccine mandate for the city’s 30,885 employees. Lightfoot has said she won’t move her Oct. 15 mandate deadline just because police unions are dead-set against it.
- Chicago police issued an arrest warrant today for an 18-year-old man charged with killing a father who was driving his daughter to school earlier this month. Police said the man was last seen driving a silver 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix with no plates and possible damage to the driver’s side rear quarter panel.
- The Sun-Times and the parent company of WBEZ are exploring the possibility of becoming a “combined entity.” Sun-Times CEO Nykia Wright emphasized in a memo to staff this morning that “we are not close to any deal.”
- A Lake County man died after being bit by a rabid bat in August, the first reported human case of rabies in the state since 1954, state health officials said. The man, who was in his 80s, woke up with a bat on his neck in August, part of what wildlife experts would later find was a bat colony in the man’s home.
- Last week, members of Chicago’s Haitian community traveled to the southern border to assess how to help Haitians seeking asylum. During the 24-hour trip, they spoke with migrants who had been traveling through Latin America, including children who needed medical care.
- About 100 neighbors from Bucktown, Wicker Park and Logan Square met with aldermen and Chicago police yesterday to address an uptick in carjackings in the area. CPD plans to start patrols earlier and conduct routine seatbelt checks to increase police visibility in the neighborhoods.
- Some good news for hot dog and Italian beef lovers — Portillo’s plans to pop up in hundreds of locations nationwide in the coming years. The chain plans to increase the number of restaurants by about 10% each year to reach 600 restaurants in the U.S. in 25 years, our Clare Proctor reports.
A bright one
Cedars has been known for its traditional Mediterranean cuisine for decades, but the late founder Sudki Abdullah’s son has recently started to bring in new and inspired twists on classic flavors.
“In the last two years, after my father passed ... I took over and I had a theme of like, ‘Well, I’m not just Middle Eastern, I’m very American, very western,’” owner Amer Abdullah said. “So I was like, ‘I think the theme would be more accurate if I put my fingerprints on it.’ Middle East meets Midwest, and that’s kind of what we do.”
The Arab swag tacos at Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen are a tasty and prime example of that infusion of cultures and flavors.
The idea of making Middle Eastern tacos came from Abdullah’s partner, Kinan Moufti, but it took a few tries to get it right.
Luckily, Rocio Garcia, another team member, stepped in and offered to help. Garcia drew inspiration online before the Cedars team perfected the recipe.
Customers were initially very surprised by the idea of tacos at a Mediterranean restaurant, Abdullah said.
“I think it was literally love at first bite. People tried them and the next thing you know it was like 50 orders every Tuesday, 75 orders every Tuesday, and it just kept going up and up from there,” Abdullah said.
From the press box
- Our Bears beat reporters discuss what’s next for the Bears after they agreed to buy the Arlington Heights property in the latest episode of the Halas Intrigue podcast.
- Putting aside the Bears’ suburban stadium situation, there’s still a game Sunday at Soldier Field against the Lions. Who will start? Matt Nagy said today he’s going back to Andy Dalton if the veteran is healthy.
- Courtney Vandersloot etched her name in the record books in the Sky’s 101-95 playoff win over the Sun last night, putting up the second triple-double in WNBA postseason history with 12 points, 10 rebounds and a record-setting 18 assists. “It will go down as one of the best point guard games in playoff history,” Sky coach James Wade said afterwards.
- Turning to high school football, the next few weeks will be critical to deciding the pecking order for the teams in the Public League. Michael O’Brien looks at the top five teams in the league — Phillips, Simeon, Kenwood, Morgan Park and Taft — entering that key stretch.
Your daily question ☕
How do you feel about the Bears’ efforts to leave the city for a new stadium in Arlington Heights?
Email us(please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday we asked you: How would you describe autumn in Chicago to someone who’s never experienced it before? Here’s what some of you said…
“Your vehicle has a closet full of clothes just in case, flipping your thermostat from A/C to heat is a twice-daily ritual, and your kids run out of hoodies to bring to school in the morning because they forget to bring them home in the afternoon.” —Sue Johnston
“Autumn in Chicago is a very joyful time. Especially in the month of October. We have such wonderful weather. Although are September has been warm, October is still the most joyful time when it comes to Mother Nature. We have beautiful leaves that turn beautiful gold and green. We have beautiful weather as the sun shines most of October. Chicago is a great town — it is the city by the lake. It’s a city with a big heart.” —Lamonte Dixon
“Could be 90, could be 30, could rain, could be sunny, could snow — all on the same day.” — Mary Jo Kerber
“Trees are changing colors, it’s beautiful, and light breezes on these warm days cool the nights. And there’s a smell to it — it’s hard to describe, but just you just know it’s fall and it just smells good and just gives you a good feeling inside.” —Bob Baker
“Uh, last time I checked, Chicago only has three seasons throughout the year: winter summer and construction.” —Steve Price
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