Read the Bears’ letter on Arlington Park as possible stadium plans are revealed – NBC Chicago


The Chicago Bears offered a first look at their concept plans for their potential new home in Arlington Heights, releasing a letter to residents ahead of a community meeting to discuss their massive design.

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

“Make no mistake, this is much more than a stadium project,” the letter read, adding that nothing is guaranteed about Soldier Field’s potential move.

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.

Read the full letter and see the renderings below:

In September 2021, the Chicago Bears signed an agreement to acquire 326 acres of property in Arlington Heights to secure the potential to start an exciting new chapter there. 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, it does not guarantee that we will develop it. While under contract with the seller of Arlington Park, we will not discuss or explore other alternative stadium sites or opportunities, including Soldier Field renovations. Much remains to be decided, but any decision will be made in the best interest of the long-term future of the Bears, our fans and the Chicagoland community.

If the team proceeds to purchase the Arlington Park property, and if the Bears organization then chooses to proceed with the development of the property, the project will be one of the largest development projects in the history of the state of Illinois. We envision a versatile entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class gated stadium, providing Chicagoland with a worthy new home to host global events such as the Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs and Final Four.

Don’t get me wrong, this is much more than a stadium project. Any development in Arlington Park will propose to include a mixed-use entertainment, commercial/retail and residential district that will bring significant economic benefits to Cook County, the surrounding region and the State of Illinois. 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 other improvements for the community to enjoy.

Above all, the Bears organization is committed to ensuring that the project serves Cook County, the Chicagoland community and the people of Illinois 365 days a year. If the decision is made to develop Arlington Park, it would generate significant economic benefits commensurate with the scale of the project. Construction of the proposed project is expected to create more than 48,000 jobs, result in an economic impact of $9.4 billion for Chicagoland, and provide $3.9 billion in labor income to workers in the region, while the completed project will create more than 9,750 long-term jobs. , translates into an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion for Chicagoland and provides $601 million in annual labor income to Chicagoland workers. We also expect the development to generate $16 million in annual tax revenue in addition to property taxes for Arlington Heights, $9.8 million for Cook County and $51.3 million for the State of Illinois. .

While the Bears are not seeking any public funding for the direct construction of the stadium structure, given the long-term public benefits of this project, we look forward to partnering with the various government agencies to secure funding and support. additional assistance needed to support the feasibility of the rest of the development.

We are taking serious steps to assess the unique opportunity before us. The Bears remain committed to Soldier Field and will honor the terms of its lease. While the prospect of a mixed-use, transit-oriented entertainment neighborhood anchored by a new gated stadium is exciting for the Bears and the entire state, much work remains to be done before we can close the property, and then if we will develop it. We look forward to working with key partners and stakeholders from the Chicagoland community and the State of Illinois in the months ahead.

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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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