Mar 11, 2024 - Business

Chicago Bears officially shift stadium push to lakefront

Photo of a stadium

In this drone image, a general view of Soldier Field with the Chicago skyline before a game between the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field on October 31, 2021. Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears are shifting their plans to build a new arena from Arlington Heights to a lakefront site south of Soldier Field.

Why it matters: The franchise's decision marks a big pivot after a long fight over property tax valuations in the northwestern suburb, and pledges more than $2 billion in private money to a publicly owned stadium and park space in Chicago.

What they're saying: "The future stadium of the Chicago Bears will bring a transformative opportunity to our region — boosting the economy, creating jobs, facilitating mega events and generating millions in tax revenue," Bears president Kevin Warren said in a statement early Monday.

Context: It's been almost three years since the Bears purchased the Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights, even going as far as to demolish the existing grandstand.

Zoom in: Sources familiar with the project told ABC7 that initial plans for a lakefront stadium would call for a dome, but stops short of adding a stadium district on the Museum Campus, which is what the Bears planned to build in Arlington Heights.

  • The new stadium project would increase open space on the Museum Campus by 20%, sources told the Tribune.

The intrigue: The new site is planned for the same location that the city and park advocates fought over for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

  • The museum abandoned plans to build there in 2016, after preservation group Friends of the Park filed a lawsuit arguing that Chicago law prohibits private businesses to build on the lakefront.

What we're watching: Friends of the Park has already signaled they would fight the new stadium plan when rumors swirled in December.

  • The city of Chicago or Mayor Brandon Johnson have not commented on the announcement, as of Monday morning.

What's next: "We look forward to sharing more information when our plans are finalized," Warren said.


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