LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Bears’ attempt to build a new stadium in the Chicago suburbs might not be limited to Arlington Heights.
On Friday, the Bears released a statement in which they said that the Arlington Park property is no longer their “singular focus” when it comes to building a new venue to play their home games.
This announcement comes four months after the Bears closed on the 326-acre site on the former horse racing track for $197.2 million dollars. The team began demolition of the inside of the buildings at Arlington Park just this week, but tax issues could have the team looking elsewhere to build a new venue.
“The Chicago Bears goal of building the largest single development project in Illinois history led by billions of dollars in private capital investment, and the jobs and economic benefits generated, is at risk in Arlington Heights.,” said the Bears in a statement to WGN-TV. “The stadium-based project remains broadly popular in Arlington Heights, Chicagoland and the state. However, the property’s original assessment at five times the 2021 tax value, and the recent settlement with Churchill Downs for 2022 being three times higher, fails to reflect the property is not operational and not commercially viable in its current state.
“We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus. It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the State of Illinois.”
One of the communities that’s interested is Naperville, which has already reached out to the Bears in an effort to generate interest in their city as being a new home for the Bears. The team reportedly has already met with Mayor Scott Wehrli about the options the team could have in Naperville.
“Last week, Mayor Wehrli reached out to the Chicago Bears organization to introduce Naperville as a thriving community with multiple opportunities for business investment,” said City of Naperville spokesperson Linda LaCloche in a statement to WGN. “With economic development as one of his primary focuses, the Mayor will continue to highlight Naperville’s benefits to businesses throughout Chicagoland and across the country.
“These benefits include having the second largest economy in Illinois, along with a highly educated workforce, top ranked public safety, a vibrant downtown, excellent public transit and close proximity to major interstates, making it an attractive community for all types of business investment.”
Arlington Heights responded to the recent developments on Friday with a statement on their Facebook page.
“The Village received word from the Chicago Bears Football Club today regarding their response to another municipality’s communications about alternative sites for a new NFL Stadium. The Village has always expected that the club would explore any and all viable locations as part of their due diligence process,” said the village in a statement. “However, the former Arlington International Racecourse site is a unique one-of-a-kind location with easy access to O’Hare Airport, I-90, and Route 53; includes a dedicated Metra Station and is located in the heart of the Northwest Suburbs. It is clear that the Chicago Bears Football Club understands the unique potential of this site, as evidenced by their recent purchase of the property.
“The Village is committed to work with the club and all other regional stakeholders to continue to explore the potential redevelopment of this site and to work through the inevitable challenges that come with any large development effort.”
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