Bears President Shifts Stadium Vision Back to Lakefront

In a recent NFL owners meeting, Chicago Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren declared his intentions on keeping the teams stadium on the lakefront, saying, “The plan will be to put a shovel in the ground on the lakefront,” according to a recent Athletic article.

This comes as a shift from Warren’s previously stated intentions on building a new stadium at the recently purchased $197 million, 326-acre Arlington Heights racecourse property. The reason for the shift in mindset is likely due to a tax dispute with the Arlington Heights property.

“We own a beautiful piece of land. And I have great respect for Mayor Hayes and Randy Recklaus and all of the politicians there. My belief right now, these projects are incredibly difficult,” Warren said. “And right now, we’re putting our energy to downtown Chicago, to the museum campus, just from an energy and resource standpoint. So we still own the land. We’re the largest landowner. We’ll stay in communication with Arlington Heights, but the focus now has to be on Chicago to give us the best opportunity for success.”


Arlington site plan of the Bears conceptual masterplan by Hart Howerton Architects

Chicago Bears release renderings of proposed Arlington Heights stadium

Site plan of the Bears conceptual masterplan by Hart Howerton Architects

Previous rendering of proposed Soldier Field improvements via Landmark Development

The new stadium will likely feature a fixed roof which will allow the venue to be used year-round. This allows the stadium to be used for a Super Bowl, Final Four, concerts, and more.

The new site will result in an eventual demolition of Soldier Field despite proposals for a fully renovated stadium and metro access. Plans call for the new location to be at the Waldron Deck and south parking lot land. The colonnades from Soldier Field will be salvaged, creating more green space on the Museum Campus.

This marks the latest chapter in an ongoing saga for the Bears’ home field. The team is set to remain at Soldier Field for the foreseeable future, with no official plans or renderings yet unveiled for a potential lakeside stadium.

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30 Comments on "Bears President Shifts Stadium Vision Back to Lakefront"

  1. People in my family balked at the idea of the Bears staying in the city. I’ve known for years they’d never leave. It’s been all talk and lots of pouting to get that sweet sweet tax break dinero.

    With direct access to Metra, a location almost incomparable in the US, and no one dumb enough to hand over everything to a “poor poor” BILLIONAIRE, they have no choice but to stay.

    I’m absolutely ecstatic Arlington is being abandoned for the time being. They were going to royally f up that master plan and the city along the way. As for the next in museum campus… absolutely astonishing how wasteful both the Sox and Bears are with infrastructure. Let’s just destroy and scrap two massive buildings because money.

    I’m quite curious how this whole saga will play out. I like the showing of the train yard getting capped. The massive towers were always a boondoggle that South Loop residents would never allow. (Something something… living in a city.) What this chunk of the city desperately needs is direct access to the CTA. Both Union and Ogilvie are sitting islands of wasted potential for game days. Other than the Loop, almost all of Chicago’s tourist magnets have awful connectivity for visitors. Walking and buses are obviously an option, but we can do better.

    • I agree, the new Bears stadium has to be transit oriented and first class connected to be a real improvement to the city. Massive parking lots and garages are just complete non-starters for creating something special. And it absolutely needs to be mixed use as well. Large international cities like London get this, why can’t we?

      We should be more like London and less like Houston.

  2. i hope friends of the park can block this.
    the lakefront should remain the lakefront
    there are other sites to consider

    • But there’s already a stadium there, plus a lot of parking lots. The proposal would increase the amount of park space.

      • They only achieve more green space by tearing out the entire spaceship and most of the original structure of Solider Field.

    • You can’t be serious? How can a stadium replacing a stadium be seen as an abuse of lakefront land? You are worse than the NIMBYS who complain about skyscrapers ruining their peaceful neighborhood in… River North. Friends of the Park are a grift anyway and the only thing they will demand is to be paid in some fashion.

  3. Truth Be Told | April 1, 2024 at 8:19 am | Reply

    I’m scratching my head. The Bears are saying that they’re willing to spend $1B + on a stadium but they’re abandoning Arlington Heights over what the property taxes will be until a stadium is built? I understand it to be single-digit millions. I realize that’s real money, but in relative terms, that’s like dropping your trip to Europe because the Uber to the airport is $5 more than you planned on.

    • They’re going to spend a billion either way. BearsCorp probably realized that no one really wants to go to Arlington Heights unless the live there.

    • Steve River North | April 1, 2024 at 11:56 am | Reply

      This is called intimidation tactics against Arlington Heights and the greedy school district. They will now play them against Chicago until they get a deal they like.

      • That damned greedy school district – who do they think they are, educating children who could be put to work.

    • The lakefront is park land, so there aren’t any property taxes. I am curious about the numbers behind this, since they’d still have to pay rent.

  4. april fools day

  5. Re-design this so it doesn’t look like a cross between an airplane hanger and a wal-mart. Ensure that there are ample facilities that allow fans to place their bets. Make sure to name it something that both hawks some consumer product and sounds patriotic (so superfans can act patriotic and serve their corporate overlords by saying “Kraft Cheese-whiz Freedom Fighters Stadium and Casino” without actually doing anything other than that). Put it in the parking lot north of McCormick Place, and remove the spaceship that landed on Soldier Field. Set up a Las Vegas residency for a Grateful Dead tribute band in the new-old Soldier Field.

  6. And, congratulations, citizens of Arlington Heights. Good for you for not giving BearsCorp a big tax break to blight your city with a hulking building surrounded by a sea of asphalt that is empty 300 days a year.

  7. Why would you keep leasing a property chicago when you own one with more acres in Arlington heights better traffic and train excess explain Kevin warren

  8. In their current stadium, under their current lease, that they say is awful and they can’t wait to leave, the Bears are the 5th most valuable NFL franchise worth $6.3 billion, according to Forbes.

  9. Midwest Blade | April 1, 2024 at 10:30 am | Reply

    Love to see the Bears shifting back to the city but am wholly against any public funding to support a billion dollar franchise, we still owe money on the Soldier Field renovation. This goes for the Sox as well, there is plenty of room around that stadium to develop, building at the “78” makes no sense.

    • Steve Johnson | April 1, 2024 at 11:40 am | Reply

      As far as the idea of a tax break, the reality is that the Bears proposal was an increase from current taxes. I don’t see that as a tax break, the school districts tried to rape the Bears for gobs of money.

  10. The NFL is the premier professional sports league in the United States, and it requires a national/international stage. The Bears president/CEO is a smart man. What provides a better platform to promote your product: One of the world’s best downtowns with its world renowned skyline and lakefront as the backdrop? Or Arlington Heights where besides those who live in the region there is little recognition or interest?

    Why spend billions to one day create some quasi sports village in a nondescript suburb, when you already have that downtown Chicago? As per their plans, with a bit of tweaking the Museum and stadium campus can become an attraction that’s difficult to revival anywhere in the US.

  11. Steve River North | April 1, 2024 at 11:59 am | Reply

    Whatever the Bears do they should do it in conjunction with the Fire and the Red Stars. That way it can actually be used more than 10 Sundays a year. Arlington Heights is the perfect place for all this.

  12. I could be convinced (maybe) to build on the lakefront if the new stadium replaced the original and completely underused original McCormick Place building and all the parking went underground. That would create a lot more new open space.

    • note: the original McCormick Place burned in a January 1967 fire during the Housewares show. The current incarnation on the lake is the replacement for the original. If the space is available, it would be more respectful to Chicago’s history to restore Soldier’s Field instead of plunking down a Las Vegas space ship on top of it….

  13. We all know that Friends of the Parks will have a lot to say about the proposed new stadium. Why not consider the old Michael Reese hospital site which is just south of the current location? There would be no long drawn out fight litigating the issue over new construction on the lakefront Michael Reese is still close to the expressway, Metra, and DLSD as well as simultaneously adding new value to the nearby neighborhood. It just makes sense to me.

  14. There is exactly zero chance the Bears will walk away from owning their own stadium in Arlington Heights. This is simply still a leverage play. Friends of the Parks would never allow this development, either. Look, I was a season ticket holder for 15 years while living in the city and loved taking a cab or riding my bike to Soldier Field. But Arlington Heights makes so much more sense financially for the Bears.

  15. Every corrupt Arlington Heights politician and school official needs to be removed from office and replaced. They just cost the area Billions in growth. Our business in the area would have seen a much needed boost but of course it won’t happen because of the school board’s unending short sighted greed.

    • Calling out a school in place of a stingy billionaire is not just clownish but a full-blown circus. 🤣

      Keep getting played. You’ll one day figure it out.

  16. The bears lost the last season+ traded an exciting part of it. Why can’t they go away til August+ beg forgiveness? I hope Brandon doesn’t trade the farm for their profit but I’m dubious…

  17. The Chicago Bears purchase of land in Arlington Heights was a leverage move against the city of Chicago from day 1. The property has not lost any value. It will be sold and developed. The Chicago Bears will make money on that deal.

    The new stadium will be built in the lakefront eyesore south parking lot next to McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The domed stadium will be connected to McCormick Place allowing it to host events year-round.

    The spaceship stadium that is Soldier Field will be completely removed. The exterior Columns will remain, and the land will become park space, open to the public 365 days of the year.

    So, the plan is to remove an eyesore of a staduim and parking lot and build a state-of-the-art arena. Sounds like a pretty good idea for the city of Chicago, its residents and visitors and the Chicago Bears.

  18. It does appear that the Bears are playing Chicago by buying the old Arlington racetrack property, and threatening to move there— The plan Jack Murphy lays out sounds pretty good– Attaching a dome stadium to McCormack place to create a “campus” for full year events us sound!!! It won’t help me however, as this lifelong Bear fan lives in far Northern McHenry county—–

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