Update: Wednesday, September 28, 2021: The Bears officially announced the agreement on Wednesday morning. Reports have the sale price at $197.2 million for the 326-acre property, which is large enough for a new stadium, hotels, a sportsbook, and so much more.
To read their press release you can scroll down to the bottom of the article.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 11:19 p.m. CT: In an exclusive story form The Athletic’s Scott Powers and The Athletic Staff that first broke on Tuesday night, the Chicago Bears have signed a purchase agreement for the Arlington International Racecourse property that is located in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
This moves the Bears one step closer to leaving Soldier Field and building a state of the art stadium in the suburbs.
The Bears still have a lease at Soldier Field through 2033, but they can get out of it with an $84 million penalty in 2026, with the penalty decreasing after that.
Considering how long it would take to finalize plans to build something on the property, and to actually construct it, and with that penalty being a fraction of what a new home field would cost, moving seems like a no-brainer.
A spokesperson for Chicago Mayor’s office issued this statement to The Athletic.
“We are not surprised by this move. We remain committed to continuing the work to keep the team in Chicago and have advised the Bears that we remain open to discussions. However, just as the Bears view this as a business decision so does the City. This season, Soldier Field signed a major contract with the Chicago Fire and just last weekend Soldier Field hosted the Shamrock Series — both of which are lucrative for the Chicago Park District and local economy.
“These examples and others demonstrate that Soldier Field remains a very sought-after venue, and, as the Mayor has said many times, overall, the City and Park District must explore all options to both enhance the visitor and fan experience at Soldier Field year-round and maximize revenues. Therefore, we must do what’s in the best economic interests of our taxpayers and maximize the financial benefits at the important asset that is Soldier Field. As for the Bears, the Mayor has said numerous times, our door in City Hall remains open to engage the Bears.”
That reads differently than the Mayor’s press release via her Twitter in June — that has since been deleted — when she said the Bears’ bid on the property was “a negotiating tactic,” and she took a a shot at the team’s inability to beat the Packers and to be “relevant past October.”
Per The Athletic, the Bears will make the announcement official on Wednesday morning. And speaking of Bears’ press conferences, they’ve also announced that head coach Matt Nagy will be meeting the media on Wednesday morning. I seriously doubt the franchise is trotting Nagy out for the Arlington Park announcement, so it could be an interesting day at Halas Hall tomorrow.
Update: Here’s the announcement from the Bears this morning.
“We are excited to have executed a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) for the Arlington Park property,” said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips. “We are grateful to Churchill Downs Incorporated for their efforts to reach this point. We also appreciate the support of Mayor Tom Hayes and the Village of Arlington Heights. Finalizing the PSA was the critical next step in continuing our exploration of the property and its potential. Much work remains to be completed, including working closely with the Village of Arlington Heights and surrounding communities, before we can close on this transaction. Our goal is to chart a path forward that allows our team to thrive on the field, Chicagoland to prosper from this endeavor, and the Bears organization to be ensured a strong future. We will never stop working toward delivering Bears fans the very best experience. We will continue to provide updates on our progress at the appropriate time.”
“This has been an extraordinarily competitive bid process,” said Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen. “Congratulations to the Chicago Bears for their professionalism and perseverance. It is clear they are committed to an exciting vision for their team and their fans. We wish them the greatest success and are excited for the opportunity this brings to the Village of Arlington Heights and the future economic development of this unique property.”
“I could not be more excited about the news that the Chicago Bears have signed a Purchase and Sale Agreement to buy the Arlington Park property in our community,” said Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes. “My goal for any redevelopment has always been to put this prime piece of real estate to its highest and best use, and I can’t think of a higher and better use than this one. There is a long way to go as we begin this journey, and many issues for the community to discuss, but the Village is committed to working with the Bears organization and all stakeholders to explore this opportunity for Arlington Heights and the northwest suburban region.”