On Wednesday, the Chicago Bears announced they have officially closed on the Arlington Park property, bringing the Monsters of the Midway one step closer to finding a new home. And, that new home could also be home to an Illinois sportsbook.
The team told the world about the move with this open letter:
Our open letter regarding the closing on Arlington Park property:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 15, 2023
The Bears now own the 326-acre property that Arlington International Racetrack once sat on. But after the horse racing venue closed in September 2021, no new tenants have called it home.
The team isn’t out of the woods with Soldier Field and the Chicago Park District, though. The Bears’ lease at its current home runs through the 2033 season. However, the team can pay as much as $90 million if they break the lease in 2026, and the price to leave diminishes with each year afterwards.
Though, perhaps part of the revenue for the massive project could come from opening a sportsbook on site. In November, Arlington Heights village trustees approved a zoning change allowing a sports betting facility. That means gambling looks to be very much coming to the new home of the Bears in Arlington. Though the Illinois Gaming Board will have the final say.
New Arlington Heights stadium dubbed “mega-project”
As for construction of a stadium, in the open letter the team said the Arlington Heights venture would be “one of the largest mega-projects in Midwest history.”
The team also projects that construction of the domed, non-retractable roof stadium would create over 48,000 jobs. It would generate $9.4 billion in “economic impact” for the Chicagoland economy and provide $3.9 billion in new labor income to regional workers.
The Bears forecast that over 9,750 long-term employment opportunities would open, generating $1.4 billion in annual economic impact for the area. Additionally, $601 million in annual labor income would be earned by workers.
Bears plea for public assistance
The team has consistently said it would privately finance construction of a new stadium. But the team has also continued seeking public assistance for the project to make moving to Arlington Heights financially feasible.
The open letter called for a “public-private partnership addressing predictable taxes and necessary infrastructure funding for public use.” Improvements will focus on regional infrastructure like roads for better traffic flow and water drainage for area residents.
Land purchase doesn’t make the move official
The Bears made it clear that purchasing the Arlington Park property doesn’t mean the team is moving to the suburbs. It signals a further step in that direction.
The open letter reads:
“There is still a tremendous amount of due diligence work to be done to determine if constructing an enclosed state-of-the-art stadium and multi-purpose entertainment district is feasible.