> Bears unveil stadium plan, aims to create ‘multi-purpose entertainment district’

Bears unveil stadium plan, aims to create ‘multi-purpose entertainment district’

Bears unveil stadium plan, aims to create ‘multi-purpose entertainment district’

Sep 07
SW Creative
  • SportsWriters

The Chicago Bears unveiled their stadium construction plan earlier this week on Tuesday, which shows the domed stadium situated near a highway and commuter rail tracks. In two aerial illustrations, buildings and green spaces can also be found close to the stadium.

While the initial plan included the construction of a domed stadium, Bears executives were apparently aiming for a “multi-purpose entertainment district” worthy of major sporting events.

Prior to revealing their plan this week, the Bears have signed a $197.2 million purchase and sale agreement (PSA) with Churchill Downs Inc., a property owner in Arlington. It means that the franchise is ready to part ways from its historic home turf, Soldier Field.

The Bears’ lease agreement with Soldier Field will ensure their stay through 2033. However, the team may cut their stay short to 2026.

Upon signing the PSA, their departure becomes more apparent, especially when team execs decided to reject Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s renovations proposal, saying that the team is now tied under contract for a property in Arlington Heights and will not consider renovating the stadium or to look for other alternatives.

“Much remains to be decided, but any decision will be made in the best interests of the Bears’ long-term future, our fans and the Chicagoland community.”

Hence, comes the Bears’ ambitious plan on a 326-acre Arlington Park property, which the franchise considered “one of the largest development projects in Illinois state history.”

Via an open letter, the Bears claimed they would not seek public funding for the stadium construction but might resort to governmental agencies for additional funding necessary to complete the remaining part of the construction.

The Bears projected that their entertainment complex would provide over 48,000 jobs and 9,750 long-term jobs. Moreover, the team claimed its entertainment district would rack in $1.4 billion of economic impact on the surrounding area and provide workers with $601 million in annual income.

"While under contract with the seller of Arlington Park, we will not be discussing or exploring any other alternative stadium sites or opportunities, including renovations of Soldier Field."

- Chicago Bears Organization

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

3

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed three proposals on Monday July 25, 2022 for renovations to Soldier Field to entice the Bears to remain at their home stadium of the past 50 years.

At the center of the proposal is the construction of a domed stadium, which could cost anywhere from $900 million to $2.2 billion.

Lightfoot laid out three options for construction of a dome:

  1. The first would fully enclose the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome structure.
  2. The second would require both end zones to be rebuilt with columns to make the stadium dome-ready.
  3. The third option calls for modifications to make Soldier Field a multipurpose stadium suited to host soccer games while also making it a viable location to accommodate major concerts and a range of events.

“I’m somebody who likes to plan so we’ve got plan B, plan C and others in the works as well if the Bears decide that they’re going to abandon the city of Chicago,” Lightfoot said on Tuesday, per Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt. “I hope they don’t and we’re going to keep fighting that fight as long as we possibly can.”

- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoo

"It's our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we're doing what's best for our organization and its future."

- Ted Phillips

  • Chicago Bears

    The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago.

    wikipedia
  • Soldier Field

    American football stadium located in the Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It opened in 1924 and is the home field of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League

    wikipedia
  • Arlington Park

    Arlington International Racecourse was a horse race track in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois.

    wikipedia
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