Chicago Bears unveil potential new domed stadium, mixed-use concept

Dive Brief:

  • There are several “ifs” attached, but the NFL’s Chicago Bears may be getting a new stadium. Should the franchise continue with plans to purchase 326 acres in Arlington Heights, Illinois, it intends to build a “best-in-class enclosed stadium,” per an announcement.
  • The stadium would serve as the anchor for what the team called one of the largest developments in Illinois history. That development would feature restaurants, offices, hotels and parks. The team estimates construction could create 48,000 jobs, generate $9.4 billion in economic impact for the greater Chicago area and provide $3.9 billion in labor income across the region. 
  • The Bears also said they will seek no public funding directly for the stadium’s construction, but would try to partner with “various governmental bodies” to secure additional money and assistance for the rest of the development.

Dive Insight:

It is not a done deal. The Bears’ announcement uses the word “if” emphasized in italics five times.

Last September, the Bears entered into a preliminary agreement to purchase the Arlington Heights land. The team is still under contract to purchase the property, but must meet conditions in order to close. While under contract with Arlington Park, however, the Bears say they will not discuss nor explore alternative stadium sites.

That would include renovations of Soldier Field, the Bears’ home since 1971. The stadium first opened in 1924, and has seen several renovations over its lifetime. It’s the oldest stadium in the NFL — second place belongs to the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field, opened in 1957.

The Bears, however, still have a lease to play at Soldier Field through 2033, which the team says it intends to honor, though there is an $84 million buyout opportunity the Bears can use to break the lease as early as 2026.

The Bears are hosting an informational community meeting Thursday to discuss the potential purchase and development, and will detail conceptual plans for the mixed-use district.

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