The Chicago Bears are tearing down the former Arlington Park horse track, even while conspicuously eyeing possible moves to places other than Arlington Heights. Naperville, Waukegan or even Soldier Field may be in the running as the Bears’ long-term future home — or so the team would like us to think.
Northwestern University has no such options for its stadium quest. Evanston’s Big Ten school wants to transform its Ryan Field football stadium into a multipurpose venue that would offer football games, plus a regular schedule of concerts.
The university’s biggest benefactors, Pat and Shirley Ryan, have offered to cover a large chunk of the construction cost as part of a landmark $480 million gift to the school. With the Ryan pledge for a stadium rebuild in the Northwestern kitty, that makes Northwestern a highly motivated developer.
What these two proposed projects most have in common is their reliance on local governments to make them happen. And what the local governments need to keep in mind is that they, not their would-be coliseum constructors, have the controlling seat in negotiations.
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