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Speaker Welch slams door on Bears, White Sox stadium plans

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Springfield has no interest in funneling taxpayer dollars to stadium projects. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said it. Senate President Don Harmon has said it.

Now, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, perceived previously as the most open of the three Springfield leaders to some public funding of new Bears and White Sox stadiums, is slamming the door even louder. Speaking to WTTW-Ch. 11 on June 3, Welch said, “There’s just no appetite to use taxpayer funding to fund stadiums for billionaires.”

Pressed on whether that hard stance could soften after the November election, Welch paused a few beats and then banged his gavel.

“Even after the election,” he said.

It was only six weeks ago that Welch said he told Chicago Bears President Kevin Warren there was no support in the capital for approving stadium subsidies during the spring legislative session, which ended last month. But, he cryptically added at the time, “Now, in Springfield, environments change.”

That caveat seemed to encourage the teams to press for their plans all the harder, with the Bears in particular embodying the oft-used “Dumb and Dumber” meme: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Caveats have changed into a caveat emptor. Welch foresees no such change in the environment in the fall veto session, after incumbents are safely reelected (or not), nor in the January lame-duck session.

Case closed.

This page has opposed the Bears’ plans to build south of Soldier Field as currently constituted but has urged the team also to consider other sites including the former Michael Reese Hospital site on the Near South Side. There’s also considerable potential for a mixed-use development anchored by a new White Sox stadium at the so-called 78 site just south of Roosevelt Road.



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