Read the full letter from the Bears to Arlington Park Stadium as the plans were originally revealed on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Bears have given the first look at their conceptual 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 released a new website Tuesday afternoon detailing their potential plans for what won’t just be a new stadium but a much larger mixed-use venue. Included in the note are renderings of what such a project would look like.
“Make no mistake, this is much more than a stadium project,” the letter says, adding that nothing is guaranteed about the potential move from Soldier Field.
The meeting, which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, will detail what a Bears statement called “one of the largest development projects in the history of the state of Illinois.” Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said neither he nor members of the Arlington Heights Village Board will attend the community meeting to air 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 ensure the possibility of starting a new and exciting chapter there. We remain in contract to purchase the property, but there are conditions that must be met before we are able to close. If we close on the property, there is no guarantee that we will develop it. While we are under contract with the seller of Arlington Park, we will not discuss or explore other alternative stadium locations 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 goes ahead with the purchase of the Arlington Park property, and if the Bears organization chooses to move forward with the development of the property, the project would be one of the largest development projects in the history of the state of Illinois. We envision a multi-use entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class indoor stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events like the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff and the Final Four.
Make no mistake, this is much more than a pitch project. Any development of Arlington Park will propose to include a mixed-use recreational, commercial/retail and residential area that will provide significant economic benefits to Cook County, the surrounding area and the State of Illinois. The project’s long-term vision for the entire property is an ongoing work in progress, but could include: restaurants, office space, 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 will bring significant economic benefits depending on the scale of the project. Construction of the proposed project is projected to create more than 48,000 jobs, drive $9.4 billion in economic impact for Chicagoland, and provide $3.9 billion in job income to workers throughout the region, while the completed project will create more than 9,750 long-term jobs , result in an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion for Chicagoland and provide $601 million in annual labor income to workers throughout Chicagoland. 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 will not be seeking public funding for the immediate construction of the stadium structure, given the broad, long-term public benefits of this project, we look forward to working with the various government agencies to secure additional funding and assistance needed to support feasibility. of the rest of the development.
We are taking serious steps to evaluate the unique opportunity presented to us. The Bears remain committed to Soldier Field and will honor the terms of the lease. While the prospect of a transit-oriented mixed-use and entertainment district anchored by a new indoor stadium is exciting for the Bears and the entire state, there is much work to be done before closing on the property and then whether to develop it. We look forward to working with key partners and stakeholders in the Chicagoland community and the State of Illinois in the coming months.
The Bears are in escrow for the former Arlington Racetrack site, which they signed a $197.2 million purchase agreement for last year. President/CEO Ted Phillips said in January that he expects the land closure to last until the end of this year and possibly as early as 2023.
“Our long-term development focus is solely on this Arlington Park property,” Phillips said in January.
Hayes said he expects the village to begin more substantive discussion about their negotiations with the group later this month. The village board is scheduled to meet next Tuesday.
While their current home at Soldier Field is historic, its stature is diminished by its shortcomings compared to state-of-the-art stadiums around the NFL. Soldier Field opened in 1924 and earned National Historic Landmark status in 1984 before losing it in 2006 after renovations left it looking incongruous as if a spaceship had landed atop the iconic columns.
Almost every ballpark in the league far exceeds the comfort and convenience of Soldier Field, and late-season games on the lakefront can be brutally cold. It has been widely assumed that any new stadium will be closed.
It was also problematic for the Bears to rent the field from the Chicago Park District instead of owning their own building. This agreement severely limits what they can do with the facility and reduces revenue.
Soldier Field also has the NFL’s smallest capacity at about 62,000. There are 13 stadiums that hold 70,000 plus, and most of them are in markets smaller than the Chicago area.
Building a stadium in Arlington Heights would immediately put the area in line to host a Super Bowl (sites are currently slated for the 2025 game). The league has rewarded every team that has done 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.
Here are the photos the Bears released
Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears
Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears
Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears
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