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.

  • "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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