Chicago Bears’ pursuit of a new stadium in Arlington Heights – NBC Chicago
The Chicago Bears play in one of the smallest stadiums in the NFL and have been looking for years to make changes to this iconic venue, but this is their quest for a new stadium project in suburban Arlington Heights which captured the attention of fans across the country.
In September 2021, the Bears reached an agreement to purchase the site of the former Arlington International Racetrack, and the team hired architects to help design a stadium that could house the team in the future.
Meanwhile, the City of Chicago has said it intends to fight to keep the Bears at Soldier Field, going so far as to come up with an ambitious new plan to redevelop the lakefront property that currently houses the Bears. ‘crew.
Here’s a timeline of events as the saga unfolds.
February 23, 2021: Owners of Arlington International Racetrack Announce Plan to Sell Property
Churchill Downs Inc. has announced plans to sell the 326-acre property that housed the racetrack in early 2021, paving the way for offers to potentially redevelop the site.
The track, which opened in 1927, had been home to horse racing for almost a century but is now just the latest venue to close, joining the old Balmoral Park race track.
June 17, 2021: Bears submit offer to purchase Arlington International Racetrack
As Arlington Heights and Churchill Downs officials began soliciting bids for the property, the Bears officially jumped into the fray, submitting a bid to purchase the site with the intent of potentially building a new suburban stadium.
“It is our duty to explore all possible options to ensure that we are doing what is best for our organization and its future,” CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement. “If selected, this step allows us to further assess the property and its potential.”
September 28, 2021: Bears reaches agreement to purchase Arlington International Racetrack
Despite a lease at Soldier Field that currently runs through 2033, the Bears have reached an agreement with Churchill Downs to purchase the Arlington International Racetrack site in the fall of 2021.
The deal is still in the works, but the deal represented an important step in the potential exit process for the Chicago team.
Oct. 2021: Bears begin zoning talks for stadium project
According to the Daily Herald, the Bears began discussions about local zoning and permit approvals with Arlington Heights officials in October 2021.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker called news that the Chicago Bears could potentially leave town for Arlington Heights “disappointing”. NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reports.
January 10, 2022: Bears Say Sale on track, could close in early 2023
Phillips held a press conference in early 2022 to announce the layoffs of former head coach Matt Nagy and former general manager Ryan Pace, but also updated the public on the team’s negotiations to buy the former site of Arlington Racecourse.
“Closing the ground is likely to take the rest of the year, possibly into the first quarter of 2023,” he said. “And then we will decide whether it is financially possible to try to develop it further.”
March 17, 2022: Bears hires architectural firm to help design potential new stadium
According to the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times, the Bears hired Manica Architecture to develop plans for a new stadium at the Arlington Heights site.
The Bears offensive line could be a problem. Like a BIG problem. They’re dealing with an injury to Dakota Dozier, rookie Braxton Jones could be a starter before he’s ready, Teven Jenkins is playing the 2nd string and the guys could be playing out of position. Prayers to Justin Fields. Ken Davis, Alex Shapiro and Josh Schrock discuss the many issues…
July 6, 2022: City of Chicago proposes new dome over Soldier Field and other lakeside improvements
As part of the city’s campaign to keep the Bears at Soldier Field, officials revealed an extensive plan to redevelop the area around Soldier Field.
Most notably, this proposal included the idea of building a dome over the stadium, as well as removing Burnham Harbor and replacing it with parking “floating pavilions”.
The Northerly Island Concert Hall would also be moved to the North Lawn of Soldier Field, and other plans including a new hotel and better access to public transport have been revealed.
Finally, giving the Bears the option to eventually sell the stadium’s naming rights has also been proposed.
July 8, 2022: Bears reject idea of Soldier Field renovations
Before long, the Bears rejected the project, saying the only project the team would pursue was “new stadium development” in Arlington Heights.
In a statement to the Daily Herald, a team spokesperson said the Bears’ purchase agreement restricted them from researching alternate venues, and that includes any changes to Soldier Field.