Chicago Bears move forward with Arlington Heights demolition despite apparent undecided future

Arlington Heights Bears? Team has also been approached by Naperville, Waukegan officials

John Garcia Image
Friday, June 16, 2023
Arlington racecourse grandstands start to come down
The Arlington racecourse grandstands started to come down Friday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- The Chicago Bears are moving forward with demolition at Arlington racecourse, despite what seems to be an undecided future.

Crews began to demolish an indoor part of the racecourse earlier this month.

On Friday, the Bears began external demolition.

The grandstand structure is part of the next phase of demolition.

The six-story structure, rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1985, has been in place for over 30 years.

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It is anticipated that demolition will be completed in December, the village of Arlington Heights said.

"The visual standpoint is everybody in the community is going to see that it's continuing to move forward, and it's continuing to show Arlington Heights is the best choice for them to relocate to," said Jon Ridler, with the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce.

The Bears have previously said the demolition is not an indication that they have decided to move forward with plans to build a stadium along with residential and commercial development on the more than 300-acre property.

In fact, they recently announced they are no longer looking exclusively at Arlington Heights as their new home should they leave Soldier Field.

The Bears have since been courted by several suburbs including Naperville and Waukegan, to build a new stadium.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is also meeting with team leaders to try to keep them in the city.

Nevertheless the team has already invested nearly $200 million buying the property in Arlington Heights, and now adding the cost of demolition leads many to believe the town is still the leading contender.

The main sticking point is apparently the county's $16 million property tax valuation for land the Bears claim has no value until they build on it.

"The key is until they go shovels in the ground, and they start producing something on the property to get that tax base as low as they can," Ridler said.