ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — The Chicago Bears have gotten the go-ahead to begin the demotion of the former Arlington Park race track.
Per their website, the Village of Arlington Heights has approved the permit for Phase 1 of the demolition of the former horse racing facility as the NFL franchise continues its efforts to build a new stadium on the property.
This permit allows for interior demolition to begin for the grandstand, office, and jockey buildings located on the site. Permits for demolition of the exterior demolition of buildings will require approval from Arlington Heights along with Cook County.
Per the village, there will be increased traffic around the Arlington Park site as the interior demolition begins. It’s expected there will be 20-to-30 trucks per day with most of the material from the demolition going to West Chicago with another transfer site in Rolling Meadows.
There will be access for commuters to the Metra Arlington Park stop along with its parking lot as this first phase of demolition continues with 24/7 security remaining on the property.
A full map of the entry points for the demolition trucks is available here.
As this begins, the Bears are in the opening stages of getting legislation to construct a domed stadium at Arlington Park along with a commercial and residential complex. House Bill 610 was the first piece of legislation to get things going on that effort this May, which was introduced by Rep. Martin Moylan (D-Des Plaines).
This included the freezing of property tax assessments on the Arlington Park property along with a $3 “Ticket Tax” to pay for the existing debt on the 2002-2003 renovations to Soldier Field. Unsure of the support it would receive, it was not put in front of the legislature for a vote during this session, which ended in May.
“We owe it to ourselves, our constituents, to get this right,” said Rep. Moylan during a subject matter discussion on House Bill 610 on May 17 in Springfield.
After signing a purchase agreement in September 2021, the Bears closed on the 326-acre Arlington Park property on February 15 for $197.2 million. It marks the most ambitious move for the franchise in its history to build a new stadium outside of Chicago.
After starting in Decatur in 1920, the Bears moved into Wrigley Field when they arrived in the city in 1921 and remained there through 1970. The next year, they moved into Soldier Field, where they’ve remained ever since, with a significant renovation to the stadium taking place in 2002 and 2003.
Since moving to Chicago, the Bears have only played a home regular season game outside the city limits twice. In 1970 they played one game at Northwestern University’s Dyche Stadium (Now Ryan Field) in anticipation the Cubs may have to use Wrigley Field for the National League playoffs or World Series.
During the remodeling of Soldier Field, the Bears played the entire 2002 season and the preseason in 2003 at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign.