Sep 9, 2022 - Sports

Bears move on Arlington

Photo of a building with a big C on the front.
Halas Hall. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Bears just presented to the Village of Arlington Heights plans for a multi-use stadium and entertainment district on the 326-acre plot of the now-closed Arlington Park racetrack.

Why it matters: The Bears, who have an agreement with Churchill Downs to buy the tract, would abandon 98-year-old Soldier Field to build their own stadium in the NW suburbs.

Driving the news: The franchise held an informational meeting at Hersey High School last night to show Arlington Heights residents preliminary renderings and proposals.

  • The plan calls for an "enclosed" stadium and a district that would include restaurants, retail and housing.
  • Arlington Heights has hired two consulting firms to conduct economic and transportation impact studies; the Bears will reimburse the village, officials say.

What they're saying: "We want to be good neighbors,” Bears owner George McCaskey told the crowd last night.

  • "We want to make sure that we’re one of the ones that is successful."

Context: After years of leasing Soldier Field, the Bears have signaled they want more seats and the ability to attract big events, like the Super Bowl.

Yes, but: Even though the Bears have publicly said they won't need public funding to build the stadium, financing the surrounding entertainment district may be a different story.

  • The team would be looking for public mixed-use development subsidies for one of the largest developments in Illinois history, potentially creating billions of dollars in economic impact.
  • "We look forward to partnering with the various governmental bodies to secure additional funding," the team wrote in a statement.

Flashback: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in July proposed a $2.2 billion plan to keep the Bears at Soldier Field.

  • The franchise responded, "The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park."

The other side: A political advocacy group is petitioning the Arlington Heights Village Board to ban using tax dollars for corporations, which is aimed at stopping this development.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found

Chicagopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more