The Bears have submitted a bid to purchase the land currently occupying the Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, the team’s President and CEO Ted Phillips announced in a statement on Thursday.
Here is the full statement released on the Bears’ Twitter account:
Statement from Chicago Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips: pic.twitter.com/5ACDDtccWU— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 17, 2021
Rumors surrounding the Bears’ move out of Soldier Field have picked up over the last month, and Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes indicated that there has been communication between the Bears and the city regarding the purchase of the property.
Of the 30 stadiums currently used by NFL teams, Soldier Field is currently the smallest in terms of maximum capacity at 61,500. It is also the oldest, having been constructed in 1924, although renovations in 2003 have changed the overall look of the stadium.
With rumors of the Bears pursuing a new stadium, the presumptive option is for the team to pursue a newer, larger stadium with a retractable roof. Because of Chicago’s cold winter climate, their ability has been limited to host events such as major concerts outside of the summer, March Madness and WrestleMania. Although the latter has been held at what is now Allstate Arena three times, the WWE has since shifted towards hosting the show in larger football stadiums.
The biggest event a new stadium could potentially host is the Super Bowl, an event that generally held in either a warm climate or a stadium with a roof. All events would generate significant revenue that is currently being missed out on. Granted, a new stadium could also see Arlington Heights propose a tax increase to help pay for construction.
As pointed out by Dan Pompei of The Athletic, the Bears’ lease with Soldier Field runs through 2033. The organization would have to buy their way out of the lease in order to move to a new stadium.
EDIT: The Village of Arlington Heights issued a statement about the bid.
The Village of Arlington Heights was made aware earlier today that the Chicago Bears have submitted a bid for the purchase of the Arlington International Racecourse Property site as a potential home for a new stadium for the team. Tom Hayes, Mayor of Arlington Heights had the following to add. “We welcome the Chicago Bears interest in the Arlington Park site. It is a one of a kind location and we are glad that the Bears ownership sees its tremendous potential. The Village will be working with the listing broker to closely review proposals by all potential users in the coming months. Whether the final purchaser is the Chicago Bears or someone else, our goal is to determine which concept will be most beneficial to Arlington Heights from a long-term economic and community development perspective.”
The Village will be working with the property owner, broker, and all potential purchasers over the next several months to determine which uses would be best for the Arlington Heights community.
EDIT: The Mayor of the City of Chicago has weighed in on the bid.
On the Bears bid to buy Arlington Racecourse... pic.twitter.com/sfVmy57L22— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) June 17, 2021