Bears eye lot south of Soldier Field for new stadium
Team has potential to stay in city limits after exploring suburban sites
The Chicago Bears’ hunt for a new stadium site started in the suburbs, but now the NFL team is eyeing territory that’s a stone’s throw from its longtime home at Soldier Field.
The squad is exploring the south lot of Soldier Field, where it’s played since 1971, as a potential new gameday venue, 670 The Score reported.
The south lot, currently used for parking and tailgating, is under evaluation by Compass Land Surveying from Aurora, the same firm that assessed locations in Arlington Heights. The Bears’ interest in the Soldier Field lot could be a tactic to leverage negotiations with Arlington Heights, where the team bought the former Arlington International Racecourse for just over $197 million in February with plans for a $5 billion stadium.
The team seemed poised to build its new gameday venue in the northwest suburb, as it began demolishing the interior of the former racetrack in June. However, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi later valued the property at $197 million, up from its previous tax value of roughly $33.5 million. Disputes over the property tax assessment led the team to consider alternative locations.
The Bears have also engaged in discussions with Naperville officials regarding a potential stadium. While a specific site was never mentioned, the former BP campus property at Washington Street and Diehl Road has been discussed as a possible spot.
The Bears appeared bullish on the suburbs, but Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has made an effort to keep the team within the city limits. Bears President Kevin Warren revealed in September that while the suburban sites were still in play, the team’s goal was to stay in Chicago.
The Bears are under contract with the Chicago Park District until 2033, with an option to break the lease as early as 2026 for a fee of $84 million, the Score reported.
— Quinn Donoghue