Bears say public money needed for commercial space in new stadium plan

Project would include offices, hotel around domed field

A first look at the Chicago Bears’ planned Arlington stadium (Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears, Getty)
A first look at the Chicago Bears’ planned Arlington stadium (Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears, Getty)

The Bears have finally released a first look for the team’s proposed stadium and mixed-use development in Arlington Heights.

The storied NFL franchise released illustrated mockups for development on the former site of the Arlington International Racecourse, which the team agreed to buy last year, the Chicago Tribune reported. The team has also confirmed that the new stadium will be domed — a longtime pain point of the often-frigid Soldier Field.

Plans for the 326-acre development include restaurants, office space, fitness center, parks and a hotel. The $9.4 billion project is estimated to create about 48,000 jobs for the area during construction, and bring in $1.4 billion in annual revenue for the team.

A first look at the Chicago Bears’ planned Arlington stadium (Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears, Getty)

A first look at the Chicago Bears’ planned Arlington stadium (Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears, Getty)

The Bears said that while the team won’t seek taxpayer funding to build the stadium itself, but would need it for the rest of the project.

Last month, a poll conducted by Americans for Prosperity, a Wichita, Kansas.-based organization founded by David and Charles Koch purported that most (72%) Arlington Heights voters wanted the stadium, but most (68%) were not okay with paying for it through taxpayer funding.

The project plans indicate that the stadium would be built along Route 53 and the Metra commuter tracks with a mixed-use district directly southeast.

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A first look at the Chicago Bears’ planned Arlington stadium (Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears, Getty)

A first look at the Chicago Bears’ planned Arlington stadium (Hart Howerton/Chicago Bears, Getty)

The Bears have called Soldier Field home for half of a century, but its 62,000 seating capacity has become among the smallest in the NFL.

The team signed a preliminary agreement to buy the Arlington racetrack from Churchill Downs last September after it had shut down earlier in 2021.

“We remain under contract to purchase the property, but there are conditions that must be met if we are to be in a position to close,” the Bears’ statement said. “While under contract with the seller of Arlington Park, we will not be discussing or exploring any other alternative stadium sites or other opportunities, including renovations of Soldier Field.”

The Bears will hold a community meeting at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights where residents can discuss the plan further with the team.

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— Victoria Pruitt