ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Now that the Bears have released renderings of a new stadium development at Arlington Park, many expect the deal to be completed soon.
The team is holding a public meeting on its plans Thursday night.
On Wednesday, WGN News sat down with one of the foremost experts in professional stadium development — consultant Marc Ganis.
It was May 1971 when George “Papa Bear” Halas sent the following message to Bears’ season ticket holders: “It’s official, the Bears are moving to Soldier Field. The change should be considered a temporary one as we are confident that a new stadium in Chicago will be completed in the next four years.”
When asked why this is happening now, Ganis said the team “found the perfect location” and financing of NFL stadiums has changed over time.
Even though Soldier Field is the oldest and smallest stadium in the NFL, its prominent lakefront location has spoken to the importance of the Bears to the city.
“What lost is the shot from the Goodyear blimp, the picture postcard of Chicago,” Ganis said.
The Bears are worth $5.8 billion — making the franchise the fifth most valuable NFL franchise, according to Forbes. The currently rent Soldier Field and if they were to own their own stadium — year-round revenue could flow to the Bears from a potential Final Four and major concerts.
The team released renderings Tuesday that are short on architectural detail, but indicated that the team wants an “enclosed stadium” with an entertainment district nearby.
“If they build a domed stadium, they could attract national and international events in the building, in Arlington Heights,” Ganis said. “Chicago and Chicagoland and the State of Illinois would benefit from that. That’s a very good argument to make when looking for some public funding.”
The Bears also released a number of projections along with the renderings, saying the development would create thousands of jobs and generate billions in economic impact for the Chicago area. They also said the team would not ask for public taxpayer money for the stadium, but for the rest of the development around it.
Arlington Heights said they will have studies of potential economic and traffic impacts done.