Chicago Bears Purchase Arlington Heights Land

Aerial view of the Bears conceptual masterplan by Hart Howerton Architects

The Chicago Bears have announced the purchase of the land needed for their potential move to 2200 Euclid Avenue in Arlington Heights. Located on the nexus of Highways 14 and 53 roughly 28 miles northwest of their current home of Soldier Field, the team is nearing the end of a multi-year negotiation on where to call home with the City of Chicago and the state. The mixed-use megaproject is being led by the team itself and their president along with San Francisco based design-firm Hart Howerton.

Site context view of the Bears conceptual masterplan via Google Maps

Site plan of the Bears conceptual masterplan by Hart Howerton Architects

The $197 million deal was completed with Churchill Downs who owned and operated the famed Arlington International Racecourse which closed in 2021, more on its history can be read in our original article covering the plans here. Now the team must decide if the move is to be finalized as they negotiate state and city funding for the project, although Governor J.B. Pritzker recently stated he is against major state and taxpayer funds going towards a private business.

Rendering of new mixed-use district by Hart Howerton

A few things are worth noting in the negotiation;

  • The City of Chicago has recently revealed updated plans for its Soldier Field renovation prior to this announcement which includes expanding seating capacity and a new dome and entertainment district.
  • However Soldier Field is also one of the smallest in the league at 61,000 seats, meaning it can’t host a Super Bowl which has a 65,000-seat minimum, the team has also expressed it will not pursue the renovations.
  • Soldier Field is unique in that it is one of the few stadiums in the league not owned by the team but instead by the Chicago Parks District, thus gains from concessions and more mostly go to the city.
  • The Lake Forest-based Chicago Bears only play eight to 13 home games a year and are the fifth most valuable team in the NFL worth roughly $5.8 billion with a relatively low amount of debt.
  • The team is in a multi-year contract to stay in Soldier Field until 2033, but starting in 2026 they could terminate it early in exchange for an $84 million payout.

Rendering of new connection bridges by Hart Howerton

If the Bears are to move forward with their current plans, the 326-acre site would be developed into a massive new complex over multiple years in multiple phases, which are not guaranteed to be built out if they don’t see the demand. On the northwest end of the site would sit a massive new $2.2 billion domed stadium most likely designed by MANICA, who worked on Allegiant Field in Las Vegas. Most likely holding 65,000 to 70,000 seats similar to other new stadiums like SoFi.

Rendering of new mixed-use district by Hart Howerton

Rendering of new mixed-use district by Hart Howerton

The stadium would be surrounded by multiple parking lots, a few shops, and a lagoon crossed by decorative bridges to the mixed-use district. The current vision for this district isn’t finalized but the team hopes it will hold hotels, office space, fitness areas, parks, residential zones, a small museum and more. Although it sits near a highway the area will need major infrastructure upgrades to handle the crowds, and those without a car will only have a single transit connection via the on-site Metra station.

Rendering of new mixed-use district by Hart Howerton

Rendering of new mixed-use district by Hart Howerton

If fully realized, the plan would create 48,000 jobs, $9.4 billion in economic impacts, 10,000 permanent jobs, $1.4 billion in yearly economic impacts including $16 million in taxes for Arlington Heights, $9.8 million for Cook County, and $51.3 million for the state. According to ABC7 71 percent of Arlington Heights residents polled expressed that they’d welcome the team but do not want to foot the bill nor provide tax incentives. The local teachers union has also hired a representative for negotiations with tax funds.

View from stadium towards the mixed-use district of the Bears conceptual masterplan by Hart Howerton Architects

At the moment no more details have been made public about the move, but the team has stated it will need ‘tax certainty’ and ‘support for infrastructure’ to make the project feasible, with a bill already floating in Springfield. But with the purchase and decision to not entertain the Soldier Field remodels we can assume the team will most likely pursue the over $5 billion Arlington Heights project.

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7 Comments on "Chicago Bears Purchase Arlington Heights Land"

  1. Too bad the $325m or so borrowed for Soldier Field renovations has ballooned to $615m due to the wackiest negative amortization I’ve seen for a large “public” project. I’m in favor of changes to museum park, but we shouldn’t dump more taxpayer dollars into soldier field.

  2. If I was Arlington Heights I wouldn’t let them demolish the grandstand until they were actually going to develop that area. And even so, I’d encourage them to reuse the existing structure. I think it’s a pretty cool building and it could be a really interesting centerpiece to the development they are envisioning.

    • It would be wonderful to see them integrate the grandstand into the new development, keep some of the history of the place while building a wonderful urbanist development around it

  3. Steve River North | February 26, 2023 at 11:13 am | Reply

    Do they plan on leaving/moving Halas Hall here too?

  4. The Bears are wanting for the final results of the Chicago mayoral election before they make a truly final decision about AH. Mark my words.

    Additionally, I believe if the Bears stay in Chicago, they and the City should bail on Soldier field and move elswehere in the City. I think a perfect (theoretical) location would be the vacant former rail yards at Roosevelt/S. Clark/South Branch of the River.

    It’s about 47 acres, wide enough to put a decent dome and huge parking garages, walkable and drivable easily from highways and trainings/buses and already has commercial/retail/restaurant businesses adjacent to it.

    We’ll see the true direction after the mayoral election run-off that is likely.

  5. If the state could provide funds in exchange for a % of ownership (as an investor), now that’d be a different story 🙂

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