Chicago Bears plans for Arlington Park include more than just a stadium – NBC Chicago


If the Chicago Bears follow through on their “master plan vision” for Arlington Park, there will be more than just a stadium being built in Arlington Heights.

The team gave fans a first look at their initial designs on Tuesday as they considered a massive move from Soldier Field to Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

The Bears launched a new website Tuesday afternoon, detailing their potential plans for what would not just be a new stadium, but a much larger mixed-use space. The note contains renderings of what such a mega-project would look like.

“Make no mistake, this is much more than a stadium project,” read a letter from the team.

Read the team’s full letter here.

In fact, if things go according to plan, the team says the project will be “one of the largest development projects in Illinois state history.”

“We envision a versatile entertainment district anchored by a new, premier gated stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events such as the Super Bowl, college football playoffs, and Final Four,” the letter States.

Among the plans is a “mixed-use entertainment, commercial/retail and housing district”.

“The long-term project vision for the entire property is a work in progress, but could include: restaurants, offices, a hotel, a fitness center, new parks and open spaces, and more. “other improvements that the community can enjoy,” the team says.

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But the Bears have made it clear that nothing is guaranteed about Soldier Field’s potential move, as much remains uncertain – including funding.

“We remain under contract to purchase the property, but there are conditions that must be met in order to be able to close. If we close the property, this does not guarantee that we will develop it,” the letter states, adding that “ while the Bears are not seeking any government funding for the direct construction of the stadium structure…we look forward to partnering with the various government agencies to secure the additional funding and assistance needed to support the feasibility of the remainder of the development. “

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The renders come just before a community meeting between the team and residents of Arlington Heights.

The meeting, which will be held from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, will detail what a statement from Bears called “one of the largest development projects in Illinois history.” Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said neither he nor members of the Arlington Heights Village Board of Directors will be part of the community meeting intended to address concerns and suggestions from suburban residents.

The Bears are in receivership for the former Arlington Racetrack site, which they signed a $197.2 million purchase deal last year. Chairman/CEO Ted Phillips said in January that he planned to close the ground through the end of this year and possibly even into early 2023.

“Our focus for long-term development is exclusively on this property in Arlington Park,” Phillips said in January.

Hayes said he expects the Village to engage in a more in-depth discussion about its negotiations with the team later this month. The village council is to meet next on Tuesday.

While their current home at Soldier Field is historic, its stature is diminished by its shortcomings compared to state-of-the-art NFL stadiums. Soldier Field opened in 1924 and gained National Historic Landmark status in 1984 before losing it in 2006 after renovations left it looking mismatched, as if a spaceship had landed atop the iconic columns.

Nearly every stadium in the league far exceeds the comforts and amenities of Soldier Field, and late-season lakeside games can be brutally cold. It was widely assumed that any new stadium would be indoors.

It was also problematic for the Bears to lease the stadium from the Chicago Park District rather than owning their own building. This arrangement severely limits what they can do with the facility and reduces their income.

Soldier Field also has the smallest capacity in the NFL at around 62,000. There are 13 stadiums that can hold more than 70,000 people, and most of them are in markets smaller than the Chicago area.

Construction of a stadium in Arlington Heights would immediately put the area in line to host a Super Bowl (currently, venues are planned through the 2025 game). The league rewarded every team that did so with a Super Bowl, even if it’s not part of the regular rotation. The Vikings’ US Bank Stadium opened in 2016 and hosted the Super Bowl in 2018.

NBC Chicago

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