Chicago Bears may build Dome in Arlington Heights

The Chicago Bears confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that the stadium the team is considering to build in Arlington Heights will be domed — but the team also called on taxpayers to fund part of the project, noting that the plan remains tentative.

The Bears released illustrations of the proposed project, as well as one of the most detailed statements about its proposal to acquire Arlington International Racecourse. It said the stadium would be “a first-class enclosed stadium, providing Chicago with a new home worthy of global events such as the Super Bowl, the college football playoffs and the Final Four.”

The 326-acre development will also include restaurants, office space, a hotel, fitness center, new parks and open space.

The team estimates that the construction of the proposed project would create 48,000 jobs, have an economic impact of $9.4 billion for the Chicago area, and an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion. The team will not seek taxpayer help to build the stadium, but will seek public funding for the remainder of the project, given the economic impact.

“We still have a contract to purchase the property, but certain conditions must be met before it can close,” the team wrote in the statement.if We did close the property, but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll develop it. “

An illustration released Tuesday shows a map that shows the stadium will follow Route 53 and the Metra commuter track. A mixed-use area will be located to the southeast of the stadium.

Two other illustrations show aerial images of the complex, which includes several buildings, as well as the stadium.

The team has played at Soldier Field in Chicago for half a century and pays about $6.5 million a year in rent. Its lease runs until 2033, but by 2026, the team could release the lease for $84 million. In July, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed a $2.2 billion proposal to build the dome on Soldier Field, but did not specify how it would be paid.

In September 2021, the Bears signed a preliminary agreement to buy the Arlington venue from track owner Churchill Downs Inc., which closed the track last year.

“We’re still under contract to buy the property, but there are certain conditions that have to be met if we’re going to close,” Bear said, without specifying those conditions.

“While contracted with the seller of Arlington Park, we will not discuss or explore any other alternative sports venues or other opportunities, including the renovation of Soldier Field,” the team said.

“If the team does proceed with the purchase of the Arlington property, and the Bears organization subsequently chooses to continue developing the property, the project will be one of the largest developments in Illinois history.”

The team expects the construction will generate $3.9 billion in labor income for workers, more than 9,750 permanent jobs, and $601 million in annual worker earnings.

As for taxes, the Bears estimate the deal will bring in $16 million a year for Arlington Heights, $9.8 million for Cook County and $51.3 million for Illinois.

afternoon briefing

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The team did not provide details on how such predictions were made. Economists question such “promotional” studies, finding that consumer spending on sports often simply displaces spending on other types of entertainment.

The study concluded that the new sports facilities would have minimal impact on economic activity and employment, but did not address the impact of mixed-use zones as the Bears proposed.

“We are taking serious steps to assess the opportunities available to us,” the team said. “The Bears remain committed to Soldier Field and will abide by the terms of their lease…there is still a lot of work to do before we close the property. to do, and then will we develop it.

“We look forward to working with key partners and stakeholders in the Chicago community and Illinois in the coming months.”

The Bears will hold a community meeting Thursday night at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights to discuss the plan.

Check for updates.

AD Quig of the Chicago Tribune contributed.

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