It is impossible to not think about what could be coming down the pipeline when it comes to the future home of the Chicago Bears. Particularly when a rainy morning and a forecast that expects the wet stuff to stick around has the Bears and 49ers set to potentially play in a soup bowl in Week 1.
Seriously, this looks like a potential mess:
When (because it’s more of a matter of when than if) the Bears leave Soldier Field for a stadium to be named later in Arlington Heights, the elements won’t be a factor. No, the Bears aren’t planning on building a retractable dome on the Arlington Park project that is a ways away from being done. But the team has its sights on an enclosed stadium — think something like the Rams, Vikings, or Raiders have in their buildings. It will be make for a step toward modernization for the Bears, but also a step away from #BearWeather that has become synonymous with the team’s history.
Putting a roof on the Bears next home was just one of many topics broached in last Thursday’s Arlington Heights town hall meeting. Some other highlights:
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot might’ve thought the Bears were bluffing, but President Ted Phillips says there are no plans to seek out a Plan B when it comes to a new stadium. The Bears have been under contract to purchase Arlington Park since September 2021, which makes the team all-in on that property. In other words, no other cities are in contention to snag the Bears. And a refurbished Soldier Field won’t reel the team back in. “Our singular focus is on this property,” Phillips said of the 326-acre site once home to Arlington International Racecourse.
- There weren’t too many details spilled in terms of stadium project specifics. However, Chairman George McCaskey said: “This is a multi-billion dollar project that could take 10 years or more to complete.” Conveniently enough, the Bears’ lease with Soldier Field reportedly runs through 2033. And while the team could break the lease as early as 2026 (at a reported cost of $84 million), we’ve got some time before we cross that bridge.
- A good catch from Block Club Chicago’s Noah Asimow, who noted McCaskey estimating the total cost of the project reaching $5 billion dollars.
- Another significant catch, this time by teammate Patrick Flowers:
- Tax dollar usage to fund pro sports team stadium projects isn’t always popular. But if the Bears can navigate these waters without spending public money on their Bearsland project and direct that money to infrastructure (streets, roads, sewers, etc.), it could be a win. Especially if this is something residents in the area want.
- Well, this is a fun nugget:
- I’ll always hurt thinking about how my summer of 2020 was supposed to include a trip to So-Fi Stadium to see Taylor Swift ring in the new arena with Loverfest and a return voyage for the Bears-Rams opener. Sigh.
- More parking? More tailgating? A higher capacity than Soldier Field? That’s all part of the plan, too. Although, neither Phillips or McCaskey would put a specific number on it. Bummer. Early estimations suggest the stadium might not seat as many as one might expect, but it will fit more than Soldier Field.
- The Bears say they won’t put a casino on the property, which was met with applause. But a sports book is apparently in the works. I guess you’ve gotta draw a line in the sand somewhere.
- A look at some markups: