Arlington Heights Bears? Not So Fast

Chicago Bears’ ownership now has land to build a stadium.

The National Football League’s Chicago Bears’ ownership now is in possession of a 326-acre piece of property in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. The Bears’ ownership paid $197.2 million for the parcel which is big enough to house a stadium with residential and retail space surrounding the football facility. Bears’ ownership has completed its first step in moving the McCaskey business from Chicago to Arlington Heights. But will the rest of the journey be completed? That is a good question. Bears’ ownership needs money to build a stadium-village. It is not a given that Bears football is leaving the city of Chicago. There is a matter of getting help from Arlington Heights and Illinois legislators and that might be a hard row to hoe.

The Bears’ public relations department put out a statement that underscored how difficult it might be picking up stakes and moving some 25 miles north of Chicago.  Sure it is “an important next step in our ongoing evaluation.” But, “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.” Bears’ ownership claimed it will not need taxpayer funding to build the stadium yet the ownership is seeking public dollars and is looking for a handout for infrastructure which ranges from building roads to installing sewers and the Bears’ ownership group does not want to pay full property taxes on the property. Instead Bears’ ownership is proposing that it pays a lump sum of money which would be significantly less than forking over money to pay property taxes. The Bears’ ownership lease with the city of Chicago runs out in 2033 but there is an escape clause that would allow the football team owners to break the deal in 2027 in exchange for an $84 million payout.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) beats Chicago Bears defensive back Jaylon Johnson (33) on a touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)