Good morning, Chicago.
The Chicago Bears embarked on a new era yesterday with the purchase of a site in Arlington Heights where the team hopes to build a new enclosed stadium with a massive entertainment and residential development.
Here’s what you need to know about the deal and how it will impact Chicago and the suburbs.
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Despite the sale, the organization maintains the stadium and development are still big “ifs,” dependent on the team getting property tax limits and public subsidies to help build infrastructure for the project.
The team issued an open letter calling the purchase “an important next step” to see if the plan is feasible — while Chicago officials responded by saying they’ll negotiate with the team to keep it in the city.
With less than two weeks to go before Chicago’s election, Mayor Lori Lightfoot isn’t laughing at the Bears anymore.
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Her first reaction to the team’s interest in Arlington Heights was to mock the NFL franchise and encourage its leaders to “focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally and being relevant past October.”
Landmark Development unveiled a video tour last month of a “reimagined” Soldier Field, including expanded seating, premium club lounges, food halls and an adjacent concert venue, topped by a dome to attract fair-weather football fans and year-round visitors.
“This is a proposal that we think sets a compelling case for a team like the Bears to want to stay at Soldier Field,” said Bob Dunn, president of Landmark Development.
As the Chicago Bears have marched inexorably downfield toward a prospective new suburban home, so has Mayor Lori Lightfoot taken steps to imagine a future at Soldier Field without them while trying to make the case they should stay put.
If the team leaves Soldier Field, Friends of the Parks executive director Juanita Irizarry she hopes the stadium can host many more concerts each year, easing the increasingly controversial burden on neighborhood parks for big musical events such as Riot Fest in Douglass Park and the recently announced Re:SET festival in Riis Park.
News that the Chicago Bears have officially purchased Arlington International Racecourse ricocheted through the Northwest suburbs, but many unknowns remain in a process that may, or may not, lead to a new NFL stadium in Arlington Heights.
Now that the land sale is complete, Arlington Heights Village Manager Randy Recklaus said “the next phase will be to analyze their proposal and figure out what this means from a traffic, safety, economic development perspective.”