How will revenue be shared for Bears’ new stadium?

$3.2B development expected to host year-round events unrelated to football

How Will Revenue be Shared With Chicago Bears’ new Stadium?
Bears' Kevin Warren with rendering of proposed domed stadium (Getty, Manica)

The Chicago Bears’ proposed domed stadium and surrounding mixed-use development on the city’s lakefront could be a money-making machine, NFL season aside. 

The planned $3.2 billion is poised to host spectacles year-round, including the Super Bowl and college sports championships, along with concerts and other events. But it’s unclear how much revenue the Bears will rake in on events unrelated to the team, Crain’s reported

The proposal hinges on a significant financial partnership between the team and public entities. The Bears plan to invest $2.3 billion, supplemented by a loan from the NFL, while seeking $900 million in public subsidies through bonds issued by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. 

In addition, the team is advocating for $325 million in upfront infrastructure costs, while suggesting the city raise another $1.2 billion to enhance the nearby Museum Campus and repurpose Soldier Field into parkland.

While most reports indicate that the stadium project will cost north of $3 billion, there’s speculation that it could cost taxpayers closer to $5 billion, when including interest payments. 

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Key to the Bears’ ambitions is a revised lease agreement that would grant the team unprecedented revenue streams from sources including stadium naming rights and non-football events. While negotiations are ongoing, specifics regarding revenue sharing and lease terms remain uncertain. 

A development plan needs to be in place before other negotiations can start, Bears president Kevin Warren told the outlet. He is optimistic that those agreements would fall into place quickly once the larger stadium deal is in place.

However, concerns linger over the potential impact on public finances and the distribution of revenue. Governor J.B. Pritzker voiced reservations about the Bears’ proposal, particularly regarding revenue retention from non-football events. He’s also wary of using taxpayer dollars to fund sports stadiums for franchises with billionaire owners. 

—Quinn Donoghue 

Read more