The Chicago Bears haven’t made an official announcement that they are leaving Soldier Field behind to build a new, high-tech stadium in Arlington Heights, but the team took the time to write an “open letter” on September 6 detailing what they would do in the event that were to happen.
Bears insider Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune said on “The Pat McAfee Show” on August 29 that the team should make its plans to move official before the end of 2022 rolls around, and the contents of the open letter seem to support Biggs’ report.
“If the team does proceed with the purchase of the Arlington Park property, and if the Bears organization then chooses to proceed with the development of the property, the project will be one of the largest development projects in Illinois state history,” the statement read, before confirming that the new stadium will, in fact, have a dome:
“We envision a multi-purpose entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class enclosed stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events such as the Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs, and Final Four.”
Bears Won’t Seek Public Funding for New Stadium
The team also included aerial images and plans for a stadium district. You can view those here.
“Make no mistake, this is much more than a stadium project,” the team added in the statement.
“Any development of Arlington Park will propose to include a multi-purpose entertainment, commercial/retail, and housing district that will provide considerable economic benefits to Cook County, the surrounding region and State of Illinois. The long-term project vision for the entire property is an ongoing work-in-progress, but could include: restaurants, office space, hotel, fitness center, new parks and open spaces, and other improvements for the community to enjoy.”
There had been rumors the Bears might consider using the tax dollars of local citizens to partially fund their new stadium, but they say that won’t be the case — although asking for government assistance might be an option.
“While the Bears will seek no public funding for direct stadium structure construction, given the broad, long-term public benefits of this project, we look forward to partnering with the various governmental bodies to secure additional funding and assistance needed to support the feasibility of the remainder of the development,” the statement said.
Bears Also Say They’re Committed to Soldier Field — But That’s Just Semantics
The Bears’ lease on Soldier Field is through the Chicago park district and runs through 2033, but a September 2021 report by the Chicago Sun-Times revealed the team could conceivably break the lease in 2026 by paying around $90 million, essentially buying out the rest of it.
“The Bears remain committed to Soldier Field and will honor the terms of its lease,” the statement noted. “While the prospect of a transit-oriented mixed-use and entertainment district anchored by a new enclosed stadium is exciting for the Bears and the entire state, there is much work to be done before we can close on the property, and then, whether we will develop it.”
They’ll likely do something along the lines of what the Sun-Times suggested. Waiting until 2026 will allow time for a new stadium to be constructed. Waiting until 2033 to move simply doesn’t seem realistic anymore.