It has long felt more like when (and not if) the Chicago Bears would leave their Soldier Field home for a sparkling new facility in Arlington Heights.
But the ink isn’t dry. And the Arlington Heights leadership isn’t just rolling over to take whatever the Bears give them. It’s not hardball yet, but there are some playing hard-to-get vibes emanating from this situation.
Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said “it’s certainly possible” that the village could reject Bears’ final development plans for Arlington Park, reports the Daily Herald’s, Christopher Placek. The mayor’s comments came during a recent village board meeting where residents raised questions about the Bears’ plans for the former horse-racing track the team envisions becoming its next home. And those comments come not too long after the Tribune reported Arlington Heights trustees had concerns about the plans. So much for a layup.
The village board of Arlington Heights plans to hold a final vote on November 7. A vote in the Bears’ favor is the logical next step in their relocation plans. But it doesn’t seem like that vote is a gimme. Not when the mayor says the public will have a say in how this goes down at the end of the day. And when there is notable pushback like this, it should make the Bears take notice.
Speaking of taking notice, check out how the Titans and Nashville are splitting up the funding of the forthcoming project in Tennessee:
It is likely this type of perspective that gives residents pause. The Bears have already made it known that they would like public money for infrastructure improvements in the area but not for the stadium itself. But if public money comes into play, shouldn’t the voters have a say? After all, there is a real risk of the return on investment not reaching (let alone surpass) what the state plans to pay from their end of the deal. And thus, I’m starting to understand why this recent pushback is making its way to the forefront at this time.
Ultimately, the takeaway is that we’re far from seeing the finalization of a deal between the Bears and Arlington Heights. We’re still early in the process, which means plans can change. Don’t get me wrong. A Bears move to Arlington Heights still feels inevitable. But it won’t be the cakewalk that I was otherwise anticipating. And, frankly, it shouldn’t be.