Arlington Heights

Bears Unmoved by Chicago's Soldier Field Proposals, Still Focused on Arlington Heights Project

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Officials laid out a big new push to try to convince the Chicago Bears to remain in the Windy City, with a massive renovation of Soldier Field and the surrounding Museum Campus serving as the centerpiece for those proposals, but the team remains committed to going in a different direction.

According to the Bears, the only project the team is currently working toward is a new stadium development at the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse, and they reiterated that stance on Monday.

In fact, the team simply reissued their statement from earlier this month when the idea of a revitalized Soldier Field and Museum Campus was first floated by the city:

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract. We have informed the City of Chicago that we intend to honor our contractual commitments as we continue our due diligence and predevelopment activities on the Arlington Heights property. In the meantime, we remain committed to fulfilling our Permit Operating Agreement (POA) at Soldier Field. To this end, we maintain a strong working relationship with Rosa Escareno, the new Chicago Park District General Superintendent, her staff, and the ASM Global management team.”

The city laid out three proposals for the stadium, with the stated goal being to keep the Bears in Chicago.

“We are doing what we believe is making a compelling case for the Chicago Bears to stay in Chicago,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “They want a tier-one stadium environment to maximize revenues, and we agree that we are going to keep making the case to the Bears, the NFL and the public that a revitalized Soldier Field makes the most economic sense for that storied franchise.”

Lightfoot argued that such a proposal would save the Bears more than $1 billion over building their own stadium in the suburbs.

Option one would be to fully enclose the stadium by rebuilding both endzones with new columns to support a dome over the stadium. Option two would be to start that rebuilding process to prepare the stadium for such a domed structure.

Option three would be to make the stadium into a “multi-purpose facility” that would be better suited for soccer, as well as concerts and other events.

The estimated price tag for the project could fall anywhere from $900 million to $2.2 billion, according to officials, but a final cost has not yet been determined.

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