CHICAGO — The Bears could be speaking about shifting to the suburbs so they are able to play in a bigger, fancier stadium on a $5 billion campus — however the ones plans don’t come with a retractable roof, officers mentioned Thursday.
The stadium that may be constructed on the proposed Arlington Park campus can be enclosed, however the heavy price of a retractable roof would put that past the staff’s achieve, Bears President Ted Phillips mentioned at a Thursday night time assembly the place the staff’s leaders defined conceivable plans for the park.
The group — which crammed up about part the auditorium at John Hersey Prime College in suburban Arlington Heights — applauded at information of the enclosed roof, however they groaned after they heard it wouldn’t be retractable.
“What we’ve noticed with the retractable domes is that the prices are prohibitive, that … the go back isn’t there,” Phillips mentioned. “There’s mechanical problems.”
The stadium can be a part of a sprawling, 326-acre leisure district centered at the Bears, with the staff suggesting the campus may come with housing, workplace area, a lodge, eating places and extra. They’d construct the stadium and transfer there in the event that they ditch Soldier Box — the place Mayor Lori Lightfoot has steered hanging a dome over the prevailing box in a bid to stay the staff.
Even if the staff leaders stored maximum main points for the Arlington Heights proposal imprecise all through Thursday’s two-hour presentation, they doubled down on their request for public investment for the undertaking and mentioned they’ll now not construct a on line casino.
In addition they widely quoted Daniel Burnham — the famed architect and town planner identified for his paintings in Chicago, the town the staff now says it would go away — when describing the scope of their very own plan.
“We are hoping that those plans are not any small plans, and they’ve magic in them,” architect Paul Milana mentioned.
Greater than 100 keen suburban citizens and Bears fanatics got here out to concentrate; amongst them was once Duke Dynek, of Mount Prospect, a 50-year season price ticket holder delighted in regards to the attainable transfer.
“It’s about time,” mentioned Dynek, who arrived two hours early in a Bears-themed masks, shades, blouse and shorts. “That is going to be wonderful.”
The assembly got here after months of back-and-forth between staff leaders and the Lightfoot management, which has driven for the Bears to stick within the town.
In September 2021, the staff signed a purchase order settlement to shop for the previous Churchill Downs racetrack belongings in Arlington Heights, which will be the web page in their stadium campus. However the deal has now not closed as staff leaders negotiate with town officers.
The Bears rent Soldier Box — which has the smallest capability of any NFL stadium — from the Park District. It might price the staff about $84 million to damage their rent as early as 2026, the Tribune has reported.
In reaction, Lightfoot has pitched a $2 billion redevelopment of Soldier Box to profit the Bears and spice up capability — and has steered Chicago will trap every other staff right here if the Bears do go away.
However the Bears stand to profit financially from a transfer to the suburbs: At Soldier Box, they’ve to separate revenues with the Park District whilst paying hire; at their very own advanced in Arlington Heights, they’d be capable of construct their very own income streams.
Negotiations are ongoing, and Lightfoot mentioned Tuesday she hopes the staff will stay in Chicago — even though the town has a “Plan B” in the event that they go away.
Bears leaders and designers with the company Hart Howerton presented no new stadium renderings Thursday, as a substitute describing their common imaginative and prescient for the valuables, which they mentioned may come with two- to eight-story townhomes, “parking fields” adjoining to the stadium, a sports activities guide, a “Bears are compatible” exercise facility, public parks, ponds for canoeing and kayaking, eating places, a lodge and a modernized Metra station.
A site visitors planner additionally mentioned that the staff is taking a look to modify exits and entrances for Northwest Freeway, in addition to Course 53, which run north and west of the valuables.
Milana, proceeding the Burnham theme, mentioned a big, grassy public park and inexperienced area within the heart of the advance would possibly have “echoes” of the Halfway Plaisance. Phillips promised “a world-class” facility that might host Tremendous Bowls, Ultimate Fours and different primary carrying occasions.
When requested if there can be tailgating, Phillips had a snappy answer, pronouncing, “Oh, yeah, child.”
The challenge would price just about $5 billion and take as much as 10 years to finish, Phillips mentioned.
Workforce President George McCaskey mentioned public greenbacks can be vital to make the advance a truth.
According to questions from involved Arlington Heights citizens, McCaskey and Phillips mentioned the staff would privately fund the stadium, however they’d search public investment for the infrastructure enhancements — to sewers and roads, amongst different issues — vital for the challenge. They vowed that infrastructure enhancements would now not result in direct belongings tax will increase within the suburban the town.
“We now have a protracted method to cross,” McCaskey mentioned. “We can want lend a hand. There are wide, long-term public advantages of this challenge.”
Workforce leaders mentioned they was hoping to near at the deal by way of the top of 2022 or early 2023. If the deal falls via, they aren’t exploring different websites for a brand new stadium, Phillips mentioned. McCaskey mentioned it was once the Churchill Downs possession crew that got here to the Bears to shop for the valuables, now not the opposite direction round.
“There’s no plan B,” Phillips mentioned, to loud applause.
Some citizens mentioned they’re hesitant about the potential for higher taxes and site visitors, however nearly all had been eager about the conceivable transfer.
“I reside within the town now, and the worst phase is attending to Soldier Box,” mentioned Kaushal Patel, a season price ticket holder and Edison Park resident.
Patel had no sentimentality in regards to the Bears leaving Chicago.
“I feel it could be other if it was once Wrigley. However ever since they put the spaceship within [Soldier Field,] it hasn’t felt the similar. I really like” the transfer, he mentioned.
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