The Chicago Bears revealed details Tuesday for their plans to redevelop Arlington Park into a year-round destination that would do more than just host NFL games, but there’s still more than a few ifs surrounding the whole deal.
The team also announced it will hold a community meeting in an Arlington Heights, IL, high school to share more details regarding what it said would be one of the largest development projects ever undertaken in the state if it proceeded to acquire the former racetrack.
We envision a multi-purpose 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 Final Four,” the team said in an “open letter” posted on its website.
The team said that any “direct stadium” construction would be privately financed.
Development Would Create 9,750 Jobs
The open letter included renderings of what the mixed-use development might look like but only had a placeholder for a football stadium. The district would include a mix of entertainment, retail, and housing. It also could include parkland and other open spaces for community use.
Building out the development district is expected to create more than 48,000 construction jobs, with a $9.4 billion economic impact and $3.9 billion in wages. The completed project would generate about 9,750 jobs with $601 million in wages and pump $1.4 billion into the local economy.
If built, the team said the development would generate $16 million in annual taxes for Arlington Heights beyond what the village would get in property taxes. Cook County would receive $9.8 million in tax revenue each year, and Illinois would get $51.3 million annually.
“While the Bears will seek no public funding for direct stadium structure construction, given the broad, long-term public benefits of this project, we 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 team said.
Bears Taking ‘Serious Steps’ in Stadium Review
A year ago, the Bears entered into an agreement to buy the 326-acre racetrack from Churchill Downs Incorporated for $197 million. The deal is not expected to close until late this year at the earliest.
The Bears, who currently play at Soldier Field on the Chicago lakefront, have stated they will not consider other stadium options while they are under contract for Arlington Park. That includes a renovated Solider Field, which Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot floated as a possibility in late July.
However, the Bears were noncommittal toward any particular site in the letter, saying that even if they closed on the Arlington Park site, that does not guarantee the team would build a stadium there.
”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 its lease,” the team said. “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 we can close on the property, and then, whether we will develop it. We look forward to working with key partners and stakeholders across the Chicagoland community and State of Illinois in the months ahead.”
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