Chicago Bears President Ted Philips guarantees ‘first-class experience’ for followers throughout assembly the place group reveals extra particulars about plans for Arlington Heights stadium


The Chicago Bears generated eager curiosity from followers and non-fans alike Thursday for a presentation of plans for a brand new domed stadium and leisure district in Arlington Heights.

Team officers drew applause once they stated the stadium could be enclosed, and that the group wouldn’t negotiate renovations at Soldier Field whereas pursuing the Arlington deal.

Bears Chairman George Halas McCaskey famous that many members of the McCaskey household that personal the group have lived within the northwest suburbs, together with Arlington Heights.

“We want to be good neighbors,” McCaskey instructed the gang. “We want what’s best for the community.”

The multibillion greenback venture may take 10 years or extra to finish, McCaskey stated. He stated the group would wish authorities funding to assist make the venture turn into a actuality.

“The Bears will seek no public funding for direct stadium structure construction,” he stated. “However … we will need help.”

Without infrastructure help and “property tax certainty,” he stated, “the project as described tonight will not be able to move forward.”

Bears President Ted Philips promised a “first-class experience” for followers, and to include public suggestions into the plans.

The plan additionally probably contains higher-density multifamily residential buildings and decrease density townhomes officers stated, with buildings sometimes reaching 4 to eight tales close to the adjoining Metra prepare station.

People lined up two hours forward of time for the 7 p.m. assembly, and the gang stretched across the constructing and out to the car parking zone of John Hersey High School within the northwest suburb.

Before the assembly began, these attending raised issues about property taxes, visitors, and preserving the racetrack on the positioning of Arlington International Racecourse.

A handful of political advocates labored the road, handing out pamphlets encouraging residents to become involved in efforts to forestall public cash from going into the proposed redevelopment.

“Property taxes are my main concern,” stated Justin Hegy, 37, of Palatine, who lives a few mile from the positioning, and wore a Bears shirt to the assembly. “Our property taxes keep going up every year.”

If taxes stayed the identical, Hegy stated, as a Bears fan, “I’d love it if they were in my backyard. I’ll ride my bike to the game.”

Lisa Miller had taken break day of her job at Whole Foods to get in line earlier than 5 p.m. She is a Palatine resident, however stated she lives subsequent to the racetrack and has fond recollections of spending time there as a toddler rising up in Arlington Heights.

Miller instructed the Tribune she remembered watching and crying when the monitor burned down in 1985, and watching its reconstruction. She purchased her home partially as a result of it appeared out onto the monitor, she stated.

She stated she wished to see the Bears take note of parking and visitors within the neighborhood surrounding the positioning.

“I want kids to be able to walk in my neighborhood,” she stated. “During any big huge racetrack events, that was not the case.”

She is against public cash funding the event, together with the proposed leisure district. But if the venture strikes forward, she stated she would need to see “local farm-to-table restaurants” and smaller neighborhood occasions, like a farmers’ market, on the facility as soon as it was constructed.

Miller additionally stated she wished to see the Bears proceed the custom of getting fireworks on July 4th.

“I bought my house, if I walk out to the end of my driveway, I could see the fireworks every Fourth of July,” she stated. “And that would be really great if the Bears were to continue that tradition.”

Linda Gaio lives “a seven-minute walk” from the positioning. She stated she’d heard so much about how the proposal would enhance the worth of her house, however was skeptical. “My increased home value doesn’t mean anything unless I sell my house,” she stated.

Gaio had two most important questions for the Bears. One was what number of of her tax {dollars} would fund the venture.

“I want to know if this is going to cost us anything,” she stated. She wished to know “if they could give us some sort of documentation, or maybe there’s some website or something where we could check the progress of these talks and the negotiations and how it’s gonna affect us residents.”

Gaio’s second concern was whether or not the group deliberate to protect any a part of the prevailing facility.

She stated it might be “the cherry on top — highly unlikely — if we could at least keep an element of the historic property, make it into a central arena or grandstand and make that into offices and all that stuff.”

Gerald Barrett, who owns Tugo Tea House in Arlington Heights, stated he’s cautiously optimistic concerning the Bears’ arrival within the village due to the shoppers it may appeal to for companies like his.

“What I’ve seen in the past in some cities, is that these sports centers are like year-round activity centers,” Barrett stated. “There’s an opportunity for small businesses in the area to maybe work with the organization, and maybe have a concession year-round.”

He’s undecided concerning the thought of utilizing taxpayer {dollars} to assist the Bears redevelop the positioning, however wished to see extra detailed plans earlier than making up his thoughts.

“If the Bears have the ability to do it on their own, they should do it on their own,” he stated.

He stated he’d need to see proof that the redevelopment would profit the neighborhood past creating jobs if he had been going to help public cash into the venture.

The group stated its “best-in-class” enclosed stadium might be worthy of internet hosting world occasions such because the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff and Final Four.

Team officers additionally deliberate to explain their idea for an adjoining leisure district to incorporate eating places, workplace area, a lodge, health middle, new parks and open areas.

It’s all proposed for the 326-acre web site of Arlington International Racecourse, which closed completely to horse racing final yr.In 2021, the Bears introduced a purchase order settlement to purchase the park from Churchill Downs Inc. The group is vetting varied features of the preliminary deal earlier than anticipating closing late this yr or early subsequent yr.

To make a transfer, the group must pay to interrupt its lease at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed topping the stadium with a $2 billion dome, however the Bears have stated they don’t seem to be negotiating with the town whereas the group is pursuing the Arlington deal.

The group’s announcement of its plans Tuesday included repeated warnings that the deal depends upon assembly varied necessities, resembling, “If we do close on the property, it does not guarantee we will develop it.”

The Bears stated they’d not ask for public cash to construct the stadium however would search taxpayer funding to assist develop the mixed-use space.

The group projected, with out but offering documentation, that building would have a $9 billion financial affect, with subsequent annual stimulus of 9,750 jobs and $1.4 billion yearly.

Economists have steadily questioned such projections, warning that sports activities stadiums don’t sometimes make a very good return on funding for governmental our bodies.

Americans for Prosperity-Illinois, a part of a nationwide libertarian group backed by the conservative Koch brothers, offered a petition to the village board Tuesday, seeking to prohibit public funding for the Bears or another personal growth.

The group additionally launched a poll that discovered a majority of Arlington Heights voters supported the Bears coming to their village however opposed utilizing tax {dollars} for the transfer.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes has stated taxpayer contributions to the venture could be a “last resort,” however has defended incentives resembling tax increment financing, or TIFs. A TIF would use will increase in property tax revenues on the racetrack web site to assist with the property’s growth.

The assembly is merely informational and the plans are nonetheless imprecise. The village would nonetheless maintain separate public hearings to contemplate any particular Bears proposal.

Julian Aguilar was exterior the assembly working the road on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian political advocacy group that’s organizing a petition to bar public cash from going to any enterprise entity seeking to arrange in Arlington Heights — together with the Bears.

He stated he’d had a “legit friendly debate” with a number of of the residents in line.

“There’s a lot of people who think we don’t want the Chicago Bears here,” he stated. “Our big thing is just to make sure we protect Arlington Heights taxpayer dollars.”

Regardless, Aguilar stated, “It’s going to have a long-term effect on the residents here.”

Check again for updates.



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