Bears move on Arlington
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.
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