Things are moving fast for the Chicago Bears in their plans to finally exit Soldier Field after half a century as tenants. Everybody knows the story by now. A bombshell dropped last year that the organization had placed a bid on the 326-acre property of Arlington Racecourse International. This came on the heels of the Chicago Park District rejecting their attempts to install a new sportsbook at the stadium. The move caught the city completely by surprise and sent politicians into a panic. It didn’t get much better when the Bears’ $197 million bid was the winner.
That was when things became real. The Bears suddenly had their exit portal. That property was the perfect staging ground for building a brand-new stadium. One they would own themselves. No more crawling to the landlord CPD every time they wanted something done. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others have done everything to sway, coerce, and even bully the McCaskey family into rethinking their decision.
Nothing has worked.
This feels like only a matter of time now. That was reinforced when Christopher Placek of the Daily Herald reported that Arlington Heights mayor Tom Hayes and a village board would conduct a review of the Bears’ initial plans for the property later this fall. It is the latest significant step in the process that looks more and more like a runaway train. Once the plan is formulated and approved, there may be no going back.
An initial public review of the Chicago Bears’ preliminary redevelopment plans for Arlington Park is tentatively scheduled for this fall, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said Thursday.
Hayes said the meeting with the village board would take place before the NFL franchise’s scheduled closing on its $197.2 million purchase agreement with property owner Churchill Downs Inc. in early 2023.
“We want this to be a win-win not just for the Bears, but for the village of Arlington Heights. We are working together very carefully with them to make sure that all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed before they sign their final agreement,” Hayes said during his annual State of the Village address Thursday afternoon during a Rotary Club luncheon.
The Chicago Bears have enlisted the help of the same architectural firm that helped construct Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. This led to speculation about whether the franchise might be seeking a domed stadium for the first time in its long history. Nobody knows for sure if that’s the case. It’s only apparent ownership wants a state-of-the-art building with a surrounding village that will make a terrific experience for fans. Of course, with the idea of making money in the process.
People can’t wait for those first glimpses of what the plans will look like.