Chicago Bears grandiose Arlington Park plans


Chicago Bears stadium update September 2022 Image: Hart Howarton & Chicago Bears

In September 2021, the National Football League (NFL) team Chicago Bears signed an agreement for the purpose of acquiring 326 acres of property in Arlington Heights (municipality in Illinois, US) to secure the potential of beginning a new and exciting chapter there.

‘Chicago Bears’ stated that the Chicago Bears remain under contract to purchase the property, but there are conditions that must be met in order to be in a position to close. If they do close on the property, it does not guarantee they will develop it.

The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, US. The Bears compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference North division.

The 61,500-capacity Soldier Field is a multipurpose stadium on the Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Opened in 1924, the stadium has served as the home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) since 1971, as well as the Chicago Fire FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) from 1998 to 2005 and since 2020.

On July 8th, the Bears revealed that it’s either Arlington Park – where they plan to build their new home – or bust.

Earlier, it was reported that the Chicago Bears have hired an architecture firm and consultants to help them draw up plans for a new stadium in Arlington Heights in Illinois, US, sending the latest signal that the team is serious about bolting from their present digs – Soldier Field – in favor of the suburbs.

‘Chicago Bears’ further stated that while under contract with the seller of Arlington Park, they will not be discussing or exploring any other alternative stadium sites or opportunities, including renovations of the Soldier Field.

Much remains to be decided, but any decision will be made in the best interests of the Bears’ long-term future, its fans and the Chicagoland community.

If the team does proceed with the purchase of 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 Illinois State history.

The Bears envision a multipurpose entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class enclosed stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events such as the Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs and the Final Four.

The Super Bowl is the annual final playoff game of the National Football League (NFL) to determine the league champion. It has served as the final game of every NFL season since 1966, replacing the NFL Championship Game. Since 2022, the game is played on the second Sunday in February.

The College Football Playoff is an annual postseason knockout invitational tournament to determine a national champion for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football competition in the United States.

In sports, the Final Four is the last four teams remaining in a playoff tournament. Usually the Final Four compete in the two games of a single-elimination tournament’s semi-final round.

Make no mistake, this is much more than a stadium project. Any development of Arlington Park will propose to include a multipurpose entertainment, commercial/retail, and housing district that will provide considerable economic benefits to the Cook County, the surrounding region and the State of Illinois. The long-term project vision for the entire property is an ongoing work-in-progress, but could include: Restaurants, office space, hotel, fitness center, new parks and open spaces, and other improvements for the community to enjoy.

Above all, the Bears organization is committed to ensuring the project serves the Cook County, the Chicagoland community and people of Illinois 365 days a year. If the decision is made to develop Arlington Park, it would yield significant economic benefits commensurate with the scale of the project. Construction of the proposed project is projected to create more than 48,000 jobs, result in $9.4 billion in economic impact for Chicagoland and provide $3.9 billion in labor income to workers across the region, while the completed project will create more than 9,750 long-term jobs, result in $1.4 billion in annual economic impact for Chicagoland and provide $601 million in annual labor income to workers across Chicagoland.

The Bears also anticipate that the development will generate $16 million in annual tax revenue in addition to property taxes for Arlington Heights, $9.8 million for the Cook County and $51.3 million for the State of Illinois.

While the Bears will seek no public funding for direct stadium structure construction, given the broad, long-term public benefits of this project, they look forward to partnering with the various Governmental bodies to secure additional funding and assistance needed to support the feasibility of the remainder of the development.

The Bears are taking serious steps to evaluate the unique opportunity presented to them. The Bears remain committed to Soldier Field and will honor the terms of its lease. While the prospect of a transit-oriented mixed-use and entertainment district anchored by a new enclosed stadium is exciting for the Bears and the entire State, there is much work to be done before they can close on the property, and then, whether they will develop it.

The NFL team look forward to working with key partners and stakeholders across the Chicagoland community and the State of Illinois in the months ahead.

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