Could Chicago Bears build stadium like SoFi on racecourse land in Arlington Heights?

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- The eyes of the football world were on suburban Los Angeles and SoFi Stadium Sunday for the Super Bowl. And that included many in Arlington Heights, who couldn't help but notice the impressive $5 billion stadium and entertainment district were built on land that used to be Hollywood Park race track.

"For us it was a glimpse of what might be," Arlington Heights Village Manager Randy Recklaus said.

Recklaus said town officials have been meeting with the Bears since they agreed to buy the Arlington Park race track property. The team is now studying to determine if they can build something similar to SoFi stadium on the land where the now shuttered Arlington Park now sits.

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Sports marketing expert Marc Ganis was at the Super Bowl and he believes the model there could work for the Bears in Arlington Heights, where they could own their stadium rather than continue to lease Soldier Field from the Chicago Park District.

"The primary reason to do this is to control your own destiny. To have a building you can do with what you want, when you want," Ganis said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, however, is not letting the Bears go without a fight, saying last week she plans to offer the Bears a compelling deal to stay at Soldier Field.

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Sports economist Allen Sanderson said building a new stadium would cost at least $2 billion, and it would be difficult to recoup that investment.

"There's no way to generate enough economic return," Sanderson said. "A football stadium is open about 100 hours a year."

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Nevertheless, many in the business community in the Northwest suburbs believe the Bears would provide a huge boost to the local economy.

"It's fun to look at that excitement that could be coming," said Jon Ridler, Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. " It could be a game changer for a lot of business in this region."

Arlington Park covers 326 acres, even larger than where SoFi stadium was built. And Arlington Heights officials can't help but daydream what it would be like to have a football stadium here, and eventually, a Super Bowl.
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