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New Bears president Kevin Warren committed to plan for new stadium in Arlington Heights

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Bears officially introduced new president and CEO Kevin Warren on Tuesday, and he made it clear he's ready to lead the team's move out of the city and into a new stadium in Arlington Heights.

While rebuilding the actual team on the field into a championship contender will be the biggest challenge facing general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, Warren's greatest task will be building a new domed stadium for the Bears. A former top executive with the Minnesota Vikings, Warren played a big role in their construction of U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016, and is widely viewed as one of the best stadiums in the NFL.

"I remember when we finished the stadium, I had all these boxes of binders. Many people said, 'you'll never use those again, you can get rid of those,' but I'm glad I saved them. The biggest thing I learned is you need to plan before you start digging. What makes U.S. Bank so special is we spent almost a year in planning, and planning is critical," Warren said.    

Warren said the Bears' sole focus for a new stadium is the former Arlington Park Racecourse site in Arlington Heights, which the Bears have agreed to purchase for $197 million, and they are not considering any options to stay at Soldier Field, the smallest stadium in the NFL.

Warren doesn't officially begin his new job with the Bears until April, but he's already focused on his new challenge.

"I came here to win championships, to win the NFC North, to win the NFC, to win the Super Bowl, to help shepherd and lead a stadium development project," he said. "Greatness is ahead of us. All we need to do now is go and grasp it."

The former Vikings chief operating officer is leaving his current job as commissioner of the Big Ten, a league he says is demonstrably better than when he arrived just three years ago. He'll now try to make a similar impact with the Bears.

"I wouldn't want it if it were easy. If all the elements were in place, it wouldn't have been as attractive. The main thing is the challenge, and I believe in every organization, there are certain inflection points. I think the Chicago Bears are at that point from a positive standpoint," Warren said.

As for a timeline on when the Bears will be able to build and move into a new stadium, Warren said he'd be able to answer that question in about six months.

Bears chairman George McCaskey said they expect to close on the purchase of Arlington Park in the next couple months.

Warren will be the team's fifth president and CEO. He'll be the first Black man and the first person hired from outside the organization as president and CEO.

It was a job he didn't inquire about; the Bears came after him when current president and CEO Ted Phillips announced last year he would retire at the end of the season.

Warren's interest and ties to the Bears go back to his days as an agent.

"This journey really started a little over 30 years ago, and I think the gentleman who helped me start this journey is here in [former Bears defensive tackle] Chris Zorich. He asked me to represent him as his agent in 1992. Chris was my first client, and for the first year was my only client, which afforded me the opportunity to really learn and understand truly what the Chicago Bears stands for," he said. 

As far as on the field, Warren said football decisions will be a collaborative effort with Poles.

"Ryan's our expert. He's our expert. That's what he does," Warren said. "To have someone like me there to help add any value I can to talk through these issues, challenge the status quo, I think we'll make a great partnership."

As for who will have the final say in football decisions, Warren said what really matters is building the right culture.

"One of the things I've learned is when you build a championship culture, the questions and the ideal and the thought process of who has the final say in all that really becomes irrelevant," Warren said. "When we come out of whatever room we're in, we have the common goal.

Warren's been wired a little differently since a near fatal car accident at 11 years old. After spending months laid up in a full body cast, he was told by doctors the only physical activity he could do was swimming. So he used the settlement money to buy a pool for his parents back yard. Six years later he was playing division one college basketball. 

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