Financing partnership touted for White Sox, Bears projects

Featured image credit: Related Midwest

The developer behind a proposed new ballpark project for the Chicago White Sox has said talks are being held over a financing partnership that could also incorporate a new stadium for NFL franchise the Chicago Bears.

Related Midwest last month released renderings of a stadium for the Major League Baseball (MLB) team in the South Loop neighbourhood of the city. Reports emerged in January that the White Sox were in “serious talks” over building a new stadium.

Related Midwest, which owns the site on which a 35,000 to 38,000-seat stadium would be built, said the project, dubbed The 78, would be a catalyst for the creation of Chicago’s “next great neighbourhood” and create tens of thousands of permanent and construction jobs. The 78 refers to the land’s potential to become Chicago’s 78th official community area.

Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, has now said a tie-up with the Bears could allow for the development of two new stadiums in Chicago at the same time. He told the Chicago Sun-Times: “Wouldn’t it be unbelievable for our city if you were to see two amazing facilities for these great sports teams built at once?

“I’m a Bears fan. I want to partner with the Bears to create these two great environments and make our city even better. Yes, we have spoken with (the Bears) and I am very optimistic on putting together something with that great franchise. They’re a terrific franchise, and we look forward to both trying to do something great for the city of Chicago at the same time.”

The Bears are said to have presented plans to state legislative leaders for a domed lakefront stadium south of the team’s current home, Soldier Field. Bailey added: “We’re working with them… to have a financing partnership that makes sense for us and for them and for the city and the state.”

Following Bailey’s declarations, the Bears yesterday (Tuesday) announced the promotion of long-serving executive Karen Murphy to the new role of executive vice-president of stadium development and chief operating officer.

Murphy will collaborate with president and CEO, Kevin Warren, to drive forward the club’s long-term vision and strategic objective of developing a new stadium.

She said: “I am incredibly honoured and excited to lead an operation that has the power to change the trajectory of this storied franchise and how fans experience the game of football in Chicago.

“I have the privilege of continuing my work for a world-class team and alongside Kevin and the rest of the organisation, to create and execute on a vision that brings a state-of-the-art stadium and Super Bowls to Chicagoland.”

Soldier Field, the Bears’ home since 1971, opened in 1924 and underwent a $690m (£542.1m/€633.8m) renovation project in 2002. With a capacity of 61,500, it is the smallest stadium in the NFL and the Bears’ lease deal is due to run until 2033, although the team could break the agreement for $84m as of 2026.

The Bears had been considering building a new stadium at Arlington International Racecourse and commenced demolition work on the site at the end of May. However, the following week, the team revealed that the site was no longer its singular focus for a potential new stadium.