Lightfoot hints at new proposals for Soldier Field

The future of Soldier Field has been up in the air since September, when the Bears announced it signed a purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse and was looking to build a new stadium at that site.

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Aerial view of Soldier Field Sunday, Oct.19, 2014.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot hinted Friday that city is working on proposals to make Soldier Field more enticing for the Bears.

Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot struck a more optimistic tone Friday, hinting at “a couple of proposals that are very, very interesting” to improve Soldier Field — proposals that, she said, may make it more enticing for the Chicago Bears.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep the Bears in Chicago, and [we’re] working on some plans to present to them that I think will make a very, very compelling financial case as to why it makes abundant sense for them to stay in Chicago,” Lightfoot said Friday during an appearance on 670 The Score.

The future of Soldier Field has been up in the air since September, when the Bears announced they had a signed a purchase agreement for the site of Arlington International Racecourse. The team is pursuing plans to move from the historic downtown stadium and build a new facility at the race track site, in Arlington Heights.

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Lightfoot added. “But you know, we’ve got thoughts and plans. And they will become public at some point. And then the Bears have a decision to make.”

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While improvements to the Soldier Field would face many barriers from preservationists and Chicago history buffs, Lightfoot also mentioned a private investor possibly getting involved in a new vision for Soldier Field.

“I’m not in favor of the city spending a ton of dough on a brand new municipal stadium. I mean, there’s plenty of opportunity across the city. If somebody wants to come in as a private investor and do that, I think working within the construct of Soldier Field, you can reimagine it in a way that will maximize the revenues, whether it’s the Bears or whether it’s someone else utilizing this incredible iconic asset on our city’s lakefront.”

“We’ve got a lot of interest and I’ll just leave it like that,” Lightfoot said.

Earlier this week, the mayor announced the formation of a committee to reimagine the 57-acre Museum Campus, of which Soldier Field is a part.

Lightfoot said she is intent on improving the fan experience at Soldier Field, whether the Bears stay or go.

“We can do a lot more to enhance the quality of the fan experience, and frankly, our assets and our revenue,” she said. “The deal that was struck 20-plus years ago doesn’t work for the Bears, but it also doesn’t work for the city.”

The 23-member working group appointed by the mayor will be chaired by Mesirow Chairman and CEO Richard Price.

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