Chicago Bears submit bid to buy Arlington International Racecourse property

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ByEric Horng via WLS logo
Friday, June 18, 2021
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The Chicago Bears have submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property, the team announced Thursday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- The Chicago Bears have submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property, the team announced Thursday.

This certainly isn't the first time the Bears have talked about moving the team out of the city, but the Arlington Park location could give the Bears a unique economic opportunity - if their bid is accepted. From all indications, there are several competing offers.

After calling Soldier Field home for half a century, and before that Wrigley Field, could the Monsters of the Midway be heading to the suburbs?

"Stay in the city. The city's great. It's wonderful. It's where you belong. You're the Chicago Bears," said Mark Stern, owner of Weather Mark Tavern.

At Weather Mark Tavern, a pre- and post-game favorite of Bears fans, there's dismay at the prospect the team could be leaving town.

But in a statement, Bears president Ted Phillips said: "It's our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we're doing what's best for our organization and its future. If selected, this stop allows us to further evaluate the property and its potential."

"It would be a great way to extend the legacy of Arlington Park, which has been in our community for almost 100 years," Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said.

Hayes said the 326-acre Arlington property would allow the Bears to build a stadium large enough to host a Super Bowl, and it could be surrounded by a year-round entertainment complex.

"Certainly I think you could put a football stadium on the property and still have horse racing there. That would be kind of my perfect vision of what might happen there, to continue horse racing and host the Bears as well," Hayes said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot dismissed the bid in a statement, saying: "This is clearly a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before. As a season ticketholder and longtime Bears fan, I am committed to keeping the 'Chicago' name in our football team."

"There's been a history of a contentious relationship between the Bears and the park district, and a lot of maneuvering in the past to try to get a better lease agreement with the park district," said Fred Mitchell, a former sports writer for the Chicago Tribune. "It certainly gives the Bears some leverage in talks with the Chicago Park District in their lease agreement."

Arlington's parent company, Churchill Downs, declined to comment on the Bears bid and what they're offering specifically. It is unclear what the timeline would be for any potential sale.