Bears close deal for Arlington Heights site, Lightfoot targets Johnson and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

SHARE Bears close deal for Arlington Heights site, Lightfoot targets Johnson and more in your Chicago news roundup
Arlington International Racecourse at 2200 Euclid Ave in Arlington Heights, IL Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.

Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights as seen in 2021.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 43 degrees and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. Similar weather will continue into tonight with a low near 32. Expect a wintry mix tomorrow with up to 3 inches of snow possible and a high near 34 degrees.

Top story

Chicago Bears buy Arlington Park property for possible stadium

The Chicago Bears may or may not move to Arlington Heights, but the team is now a huge landowner in the village.

The Bears said Wednesday they have acquired the 326-acre former Arlington Park racetrack as a potential site for a new stadium and a “multipurpose entertainment district.” Bears spokesman Scott Hagel confirmed the sale by Churchill Downs was for $197.2 million, a sale that severs the 95-year-old track’s connection to the horse racing business.

In a lengthy statement, the Bears emphasized that buying the site provides no certainty of a new stadium. The acquisition, however, could put pressure on Chicago officials trying to keep the Bears at Soldier Field and on Arlington Heights officials who are being asked for tax subsidies.

It also means that if the Bears stay in Chicago, they’ll own a huge asset in Arlington Heights they wouldn’t need after all.

“Finalizing the purchase does not guarantee the land will be developed, but it is an important next step in our ongoing evaluation of the opportunity,” the team said. “There is still a tremendous amount of due diligence work to be done to determine if constructing an enclosed state-of-the-art stadium and multipurpose entertainment district is feasible.”

Its statement went on to extol the projected $9.4 billion in economic benefits for the Chicago area and to reiterate that the Bears want no tax help for the stadium itself, just for other development on the property. Still to be seen is whether that argument will mean much in Arlington Heights and surrounding towns, where residents have voiced concerns about traffic, crowds and the impact on local schools if the development includes new residences. Others have voiced support for having the Bears nearby.

Read David Roeder’s full story here.

More news you need

Elections 2023

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot (left) and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson participated in a Leaders Network meeting in the Columbus Park Refectory yesterday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The mayor’s race

For the second straight day, Mayor Lori Lightfoottook off the gloves against Brandon Johnson, accusing the Cook County commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union organizer of plotting to raise taxes by $800 million, killing jobs and driving businesses out of Chicago.

The last of five mayoral candidates to address the “Leaders Network” of West Side ministers on yesterday, Lightfoot was also the most aggressive. She attacked Johnson for his tax-the-rich plan to bankroll $1 billion in new spending on public schools, transportation, housing, health care and job creation.

With hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring into his $3.1 million campaign fund from teachers unions and Service Employees International Union affiliates, Johnson has been blanketing the airwaves with feel-good commercials introducing himself to voters. Johnson had the support of 11% of likely voters in a Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ/Telemundo Chicago/NBC5 Poll published last week, finishing behind U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, Lightfoot and businessman Willie Wilson.

Our Fran Spielman has more here.

City Council races

The South Side’s 6th Ward is looking for new leadership after Ald. Roderick Sawyer opted to run for mayor rather than reelection, leaving the City Council seat open for the first time in 12 years.

With 11 candidates, it’s one of the most crowded ward races on the ballot. But many of those hoping to succeed Sawyer are calling to revitalize a ward they say is struggling and needs new investment. Candidates in the 6th Ward race include Tavares Briggs, Kirby Birgans, Aja Kearney, Richard Wooten, Patrick Brutus, Barbara Bunville, Sharon Pincham, Kimberly Egonmwan, William Hall, Paul Bryson Sr. and Sylvester Baker.

Our Kaitlin Washburn has more on the 6th Ward and the candidates running to lead it here.

In a few months, the 34th Wardwill have a new constituency, a completely new location — and an elected leader new to city government.

Neither Bill Conway nor Jim Ascot has ever held political office. Conway, 44, ran unsuccessfully for Cook County state’s attorney in 2020, and Ascot, 73, lost his challenge to long-standing U.S. Rep. Danny Davis back in 2006. But both City Council candidates argue their professional experience makes them uniquely fit to address the areas of concern — development and improvements to public safety — in the new ward.

The 34th Ward has moved to a completely different part of the city following a lengthy redistricting process last year and indicted Ald. Carrie Austin’s decision not to run for reelection. For decades the ward sat on the Far South Side and represented a majority Black constituency, encompassing portions of West Pullman, Roseland and Morgan Park. The ward is now about 15 miles north — another majority-white district that includes the West Loop, Fulton Market, Greektown and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Our Sophie Sherry has more on the redrawn ward and the candidates fighting to represent it.

A bright one

Man launches TikTok challenge: sample cuisine from every country in the world via Chicago restaurants

This year, Chicago content creator Cameron Brenson enjoyed meals in Afghanistan, Albania and Algeria — without leaving the city.

Brenson, a digital creator, has amassed just over 250 thousand followers on TikTok with short videos recommending offbeat eats and activities around Chicago. He’s currently stamping his passport in a culinary journey through the foods of every country in the world, as presented by Chicago restaurants.

Working in alphabetical order through the national dishes or most popular foods around the globe, Brenson set a starting goal of two new restaurants a week. He’s currently sourcing recommendations for Andorra, Angola and Antigua and Barbuda.

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Cameron Brenson, aka @bored_in_chicago on TikTok, is eating food from every country in the world without leaving Chicago, thanks to the myriad globally influenced restaurants located here.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A software marketer by day, Brenson grew up in Evanston and moved to Chicago after college. His social media presence, under the username @bored_in_chicago, started as a way to help him branch out. Brenson built a website to give users random activity suggestions, then documented his recommendations on Youtube and Instagram before moving to TikTok in late 2019.

Now, Brenson plans to center @bored_in_chicago around the “Eating food from every country” series. The series was inspired by other TikTok creators on food journeys, cooking the national dish of every country at home or eating a traditional food from every state in America.

“Most people [live] in a bubble in Chicago,” Brenson said. “And it’s really fun to explore a new neighborhood, a new type of food or activity you may not even think you would enjoy, just to try it out, see how it goes.”

Ilana Arougheti has more with Brenson here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

Can someone call themselves a “real Chicagoan” if they don’t ride CTA? Tell us why or why not.

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: How did you meet the love of your life?

Here’s what some of you said...

“We met at Midway Airport, where we worked.” — Nicholas Tedeschi

“MySpace! Hush, yes, I’m old.” — Wendy Carranza

“I am a professional musician who was performing at a church wedding. One of the guests, an uncle of the bride, was impressed with the music. I also attended the wedding reception and was introduced to the uncle. He was thrilled that I laughed at his corny jokes. Several days later he wrangled my phone number from his family and asked me out for coffee. We will be married 38 years this spring.” — Irena Lathrop

“The love of my life was on the ground rolling around wanting to be picked up. He was a cat. His name was Buddy.” — Jewff Kwit

“I met the love of my life — together for 48 years, married for 43 — the old-fashioned way, at a bar: Cunneen’s.” — John Stanley

“I met my future wife at a church singles group in Rockford. Despite some initial things I said that didn’t give a great first impression, we started dating soon after we met, and we’ve now been married for almost 37 years! Some people say she must be a saint. They’re not wrong.” — Paul Lockwood

“Twenty years ago I was recruiting parents to be Boy Scout leaders, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I ended up recruiting my future wife and love of my life!” — Temple Murphy

“At age 15, my wife turned around in Latin class and told me my name was carved on her desk. I was instantly smitten. Tonight, we celebrate our 60th Valentine’s Day together!” — Joe Kimmell

“Four years ago at the Anti-Cruelty Society. She walked right up to me and picked me to be her mom. She’s a 5-year-old tortoiseshell cat named Mia.” — Erin Payton

“It was the night before the ‘big game,’ and he had come to Illinois from Michigan to visit his National Guard pal who lived across the street from me. I arrived home from teaching second graders to find a big ‘M’ hanging in their window. I went upstairs and displayed my ‘O.’ We met that night, and I invited him to watch the game with me. By the time Michigan won, it didn’t matter because I was entranced. We married four months later and will soon celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary. The football rivalry still goes on, but at least we know that one of us will be happy after the Wolverines and Buckeyes clash! BTW—our two daughters ended up attending rival ACC universities in the North Carolina research triangle.” — Amy Jackson

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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