In what could be another sign that the Chicago Bears are seriously considering a suburban move, the team announced today that it will host a community information meeting next week in Arlington Heights to reveal concept plans for the redevelopment. from Arlington Park.
The public meeting is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, September 8 at the gymnasium of John Hersey High School, 1900 E. Thomas St. The school parking lot will open at 5 p.m. and the doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Admission is first come, first served until capacity is reached.
According to the Bears’ announcement, the meeting will open with statements from team management, who will then present concept plans for a “mixed-use, transit-oriented entertainment district anchored by a stadium.” .
It looks like the discussion will focus on a preliminary overall plan for the venue, not just a stadium.
Renovating the closed racetrack and the 326 acres it sits on would be one of the biggest development projects in Illinois history, according to the team.
The team emphasized that the event is informational only and not an official public meeting of the Arlington Heights Village Government.
Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said village officials continue to have “really good meetings” with the team about their plans for Arlington Park. When asked when the team would present its proposals to official village panels, Hayes replied “relatively soon.”
“As with any development, they want to get public feedback on what they have planned,” Hayes said of next week’s briefing. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
The Bears have been exploring the potential for a new state-of-the-art stadium on the Arlington Park property since announcing a $197.2 million interim deal to buy the site from owner Churchill Downs last September.
While the sale is not expected to close until early 2023, the team has engaged architects, planners and other consultants to develop site plans.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made a pitch to keep the team at Soldier Field — including putting a dome over the historic lakeside stadium — but the Bears have always said their focus remains on Arlington. Park. The Bears’ lease on Soldier Field does not expire until after the 2033 season, but it has been reported that the team can break the lease after the 2026 season by paying an $84 million penalty.