New Chicago Bears Stadium in Arlington Heights

Capacity65 000
Country United States of America
CityArlington Heights
ClubsChicago Bears
CategoryDesign awaiting implementation
Cost$2 B
Design Hart Howerton


New Chicago Bears Stadium in Arlington Heights – design description

Why do the Chicago Bears want to build a new stadium?

The Chicago Bears, which plays in the NFL, have played their games since 1971 at Soldier Field, located near downtown Chicago on the waterfront of Lake Michigan. The facility opened in 1924 and underwent a complete reconstruction between 2002 and 2003, making it one of the most modern in the league at the time.

Over time, however, Soldier Field began to give way to other facilities. The stadium has no roof, and with a capacity of 61,500 spectators, it is currently the smallest in the NFL. So, wanting to match the NFL's top teams, the Bears began thinking about building a new facility.

When did the Chicago Bears purchase the land to build a new stadium in Arlington Heights?

In 2019, the owners of the horse racing track in Arlington Heights (a far suburb of Chicago, about 25 mi (40 km) from the center of the metropolitan area) announced their intentions to close the track in 2021 and then sell it. In 2021, the Chicago Bears showed interest in buying it, intending to build a new stadium on the site.

The agreement was signed on September 21, 2021, with the last race at Arlington International Racecourse taking place on September 25, 2021. The purchase was finalized in February 2023, and the price the Bears paid was $197.2 million.

The Bears thought about building a stadium in Arlington Heights back in the early 1970s, after they had to leave Wrigley Field, which did not meet the minimum capacity criterion, but the choice was ultimately made at the time to move to Soldier Field.

Could an alternative to the construction of a new stadium have been the modernization of Soldier Field?

The architectural concept for upgrading Soldier Field can be seen on a separate subpage

In response to the Bears' plans to move to a distant suburb, on July 25, 2022 then-Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled plans to redevelop Soldier Field. Three options were presented. The most spectacular one (and the most expensive – it was estimated to cost $2.2 billion to complete) called for covering the facility with a huge glass roof that would rest on four columns.

When the initial concept was presented for the Chicago Bears' investment in Arlington Heights?

However, the Chicago Bears remained committed to their plans to move to Arlington Heights. On September 6, 2022, shortly after the presentation of plans for the redevelopment of Soldier Field, a vision was presented for the development of the area within Arlington International Racecourse.

The concept was preliminary and did not reveal much detail about the stadium, focusing on the other facilities to be built on the site. The plans were drawn up by Hart Howerton, the design of the new stadium was to be done at a later stage by architects from the Manica Architecture.

What do the Chicago Bears' plans for investment in Arlington Heights represent?

The land the Chicago Bears purchased included Arlington International Racecourse, as well as its surrounding area, totaling 326 acres. The horse racing track was to be replaced by a sizable residential and entertainment complex, while the stadium itself was planned to be built a piece further northwest. It is known that the stadium would be fully covered and would accommodate 65-70,000 spectators.

How much was the Chicago Bears' investment in Arlington Heights expected to cost?

According to initial estimates, the cost of building the new stadium was to be $2 billion, and the implementation of the entire project was to be $5 billion. The project was expected to bring $9.4 billion to the local economy and provide 48,000 jobs during construction and 9,750 permanent jobs after completion.

What actions have the Chicago Bears taken on the purchased site in Arlington Heights?

In May 2023, the Bears began demolition of buildings on the purchased site, including the grandstand at the horse racing track. The work was completed in October 2023. The demolition was intended to make room for future developments, but also to reduce the amount of property taxes the Bears have to pay as owners.

When were new locations started to be considered for a new Chicago Bears stadium?

In mid-2023, the Bears began sending signals that the option of building a stadium in Arlington Heights was not yet a foregone conclusion. The team was not satisfied with the amount of property taxes they would have to pay once a new stadium was built, and negotiations on the issue were not yielding satisfactory results.

Meanwhile, the mayors of other suburbs (Aurora, Waukegan, Naperville, Richton Park) began approaching the team, offering to help build a new stadium in their area. The Bears then began looking at various possibilities.

In late 2023, it was reported that one of the options being considered was a site adjacent to Soldier Field, where a new stadium would be built. From the beginning of 2024, there were further reports confirming this location as preferred by the team.

When did the Chicago Bears present the concept for a new stadium in downtown Chicago?

The architectural concept for the new Chicago Bears stadium in downtown Chicago can be seen on a separate subpage

On April 24, 2024, the Bears unveiled a design for a brand new stadium, which, in line with recent reports, would stand next to Soldier Field. The spectacular vision by Manica Architecture calls for the construction of a fully-covered facility for more than 65,000 spectators.

What are the chances of building a new Chicago Bears stadium in Arlington Heights?

It seems that after the presentation of the new project, the idea of building a stadium in Arlington Heights is not very realistic. However, a number of factors, such as financial issues and protests by opponents of the construction of new buildings on the waterfront, may stand in the way of the project in downtown Chicago.

So the idea of building a new stadium in Arlington Heights still remains an option for the Chicago Bears, especially since they already own the land for which they paid nearly $200 million. This possibility can also be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations to build a stadium in downtown Chicago.



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