The Chicago Bears have fumbled their latest attempt to search for a replacement for Soldier Field.
As reports surfaced Thursday that the team was exploring Soldier Field’s south parking lot as a potential site for a new stadium, opposition immediately mobilized.
Friends of the Parks, which successfully sued to block George Lucas from erecting a museum on the same site, said it would fight any proposal by the Bears to build on the lakefront.
“Friends of the Parks stands firm in the role of lakefront protector as we have for many decades,” Executive Director Juanita Irizarry said in a statement. “That parcel is protected by the Illinois public trust doctrine and the City of Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance.”
That ordinance, which has been on the books since 1973 — not, as many commonly believe, since the days of Montgomery Ward — largely prohibits new building construction east of DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
“We stand on the shoulders of past heroes who fought to keep (the lakefront) ‘open, clear and free’ when we say to the Chicago Bears: Our lakefront parkland is for the people and not for private interests,” said Fred Bates, Friends of the Parks board member and legal strategist. “We continue to advocate for it to be a greener, more accessible space, and we will not stand by and watch anyone try to use it for real estate development.”