SBJ/20100628/This Week's News

Bears should have second team store open at Soldier Field early in coming season

The Chicago Bears’ proposal to build a second team store at Soldier Field has finally been approved by their landlord, clearing the way for construction on the new shop inside Gate O on the stadium’s south side.

The 3,510-square-foot store should be open sometime in September or October during the first quarter of the NFL season, confirmed Bears spokesman Scott Hagel. It will not be ready for the Bears’ regular-season home opener Sept. 12 against the Lions.

The Bears wanted to build a second retail shop in the summer of 2009, and at that time team President and CEO Ted Phillips said the club would pay construction costs. Delaware North Sportservice, the Bears’ food and retail vendor, is a partner in the project, but officials from both parties would not disclose the investment.

The project never got off the ground last year in part because of a disagreement between the Bears and the Chicago Park District, owner of Soldier Field, over equipment expenses tied to the deal. The conflict was spelled out in a letter the district’s general superintendent, Timothy Mitchell, sent the Bears approving the project, a document obtained by SportsBusiness Journal. The Bears went so far as to file a demand for arbitration to resolve the conflict, as mentioned in the letter. The Bears withdrew the demand after agreeing to pay to replace a sprinkler system above the new store and cover other expenses tied to scaffolding, inspection, repair and maintenance costs.

Scaffolding expenses alone are about $54,000, according to estimates that firms contracted to do the work submitted to the park district. The park district is responsible for paying the first $1,500 of those costs, the letter said.

The existing Soldier Field Pro Shop takes up about 2,800 square feet on the facility’s north side.

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