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SURVEY: Nearly Two-Thirds Of Voters Oppose Bears Stadium Plan


More than 60% of Illinoisans oppose new stadium plans put forward by the Chicago Bears, a blow to the organization as it attempts to build public and political support for a massive mixed-use project that would tap public funds.

A rendering of the proposed Bears stadium

A majority of voters don't support any amount of public financing for the new stadium, according to a new survey commissioned by Crain's Chicago Business. They are split on their support for taxpayer dollars to finance infrastructure improvements for the stadium and surrounding areas, according to the M3 Strategies survey of 381 likely Illinois voters.

But voters' opinions shifted when they were told about potential benefits of the stadium. About 40% of voters would be more likely to support a stadium if the NFL commits to allowing Chicago to host a Super Bowl. A third of voters said they were more likely to support the stadium after learning it makes hosting concerts year-round easier. 

When the Bears revealed plans for the stadium in April with a $4.7B all-in cost, the team pledged $2B in private financing and plans to request a $300M loan from the NFL.

The project would require an additional $900M in bonds from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority for the construction of the stadium. The proposal would utilize the existing 2% hotel tax used to back ISFA bonds, Karen Murphy, Bears chief operating officer and executive vice president of stadium development, said at the April press conference.

The team is also looking for $325M to finance core infrastructure improvements it needs to open the stadium, Murphy said. In addition, it seeks $1.1B across two additional phases of development in the surrounding area for a nearly $1.5B total infrastructure investment, which it hopes will come from public financing.

Those plans haven't been an easy sell to date. Illinois lawmakers' spring legislative session came and went without the body taking up a stadium financing proposal. Despite that setback, Bears President Kevin Warren told Bisnow that he remained optimistic the legislative hurdles won’t slow down the timeline for the stadium project. 

“I hope it doesn’t,” Warren said. “We'll still just keep pushing forward. We have the fall session and hopefully we can just keep working together.”