Indiana State Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago, IN) is looking to continue his late father’s dream of luring an NFL team to Northwest Indiana, and with the nearby Chicago Bears mulling the option of leaving Soldier Field, a short move across state lines might not be out of the realm of possibility.
Authored by Harris, House Bill 1174 proposes forming a 19-member sports development commission for Northwest Indiana and assigning the commission the tall task of enticing a professional sports franchise to set up shop in the Region.
While the bill itself doesn’t allocate any funding or target any specific teams — and is just about forming a board to develop a comprehensive plan to attract and develop a sports franchise in Northwest Indiana — there is one specific NFL team that Harris thinks Indiana can entice: The neighboring Chicago Bears.
While the Bears have called Soldier Field home since 1971, the iconic stadium that sits along the shoreline of Lake Michigan may not be the Bears’ home for much longer.
The Bear’s back-and-forth with the City of Chicago, which owns Soldier Field, has been well-documented in recent years with the Bears publically mulling relocation options for several seasons. The Bears currently are signed to a lease with the City of Chicago until 2033 but can reportedly break the lease as soon as 2026, if they pay a fee.
In 2021, the team purchased a 326-acre former racecourse in Arlington Heights for just shy of $200 million fueling speculation of a move out to the suburbs for the Bears. Recently, the Bears said their attempt to build a stadium may not just be focused on Arlington Heights, however, opening the door for other options.
Options like Northwest Indiana?
Harris boasted that a move by the Chicago Bears to Northwest Indiana wouldn’t just be a boost for Indiana’s economy, but would also benefit the team.
“Things are much cheaper on our side of the state line,” Harris said.
If Harris did succeed in luring the Bears to Indiana or enticing another professional team to pack up shop and move to the region, the East Chicago state representative would be doing more than just boosting Indiana’s economy: He would be fulfilling his late father’s dream.
Harris’ bill calling on the formation of the Northwest Indiana Professional Sports Development Commission was modeled off a bill introduced by his father to Indiana legislators in 2015. The late Earl Harris Sr. long dreamed of bringing an NFL team to Northwest Indiana.
Harris Jr.’s bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on Jan. 9 and was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
“I look forward to discussing the myriad benefits this bill could provide with my colleagues in the coming weeks,” Harris said.
We might be losing Soldier Field as the Bears home but we just CAN’T let them leave Illinois. Especially to Indiana!!!