Chicago Bears hire sports architecture firms to evaluate Arlington Heights

The three firms were hired as part of the Bears’ due diligence for the 326-acre site it has under contract in Arlington Heights.

Soldier Field (iStock)
Soldier Field (iStock)

The Chicago Bears have hired a premier sports architecture firm in addition to other consultants as it evaluates the possibility of relocating from downtown Chicago to Arlington Heights.

The team hired Kansas City-based MANICA Architecture, Chicago-based real estate brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle and CAA Icon, a Denver-based sports facility consulting firm, the Daily Herald reports.

The three firms were hired as part of the Bears’ due diligence for the 326-acre site it has under contract in Arlington Heights.

The three firms are heavyweights in the sports architecture, design and construction world. MANICA’s most recent projects include the Las Vegas Raiders’ new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, as well as the San Francisco Warriors Chase Center. Founder and principal David Manica worked on national and international projects such as the Las Vegas Raiders Headquarters and Training Facility, VTB Arena Park, Cagliari Calcio Stadium, The Inter-Miami MLS Training Facility, The Mercedes-Benz Arena in China, and The Shantou Sport Park.

CAA also worked on the Raiders project with MANICA as well as the 1060 project, a multiyear renovation of Wrigley Field.

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The firms add substance to the Bears’ plans to potentially relocate to Arlington Heights, a move that has been brewing since last September, when the Bears and Arlington Park owner Churchill Downs Inc. disclosed the NFL franchise had inked a $197.2 million agreement for the site, currently a racetrack. The deal isn’t expected to close until the first half of 2023.

Ted Phillips, the team’s president and CEO, is leading plans for the relocation. Phillips secured the controversial $690 million renovations deal at Soldier Field two decades ago. Those renovations led to Soldier Field being delisted as a National Historic Landmark.

Soldier Field has long been a complicated facility in Chicago. With a capacity of 61,500, it’s the smallest stadium in the NFL. Few remaining NFL stadiums are located in city centers and downtowns, based on size needs. The stadium is steeped in history. Built in 1924, the stadium was dedicated to soldiers who died in World War I.

[Daily Herald] — Miranda Davis

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