Chicago Bears may build new stadium next to Soldier Field; Arlington Heights move still considered

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Friday, December 8, 2023
Chicago Bears may build new stadium next to Solider Field, sources say
The Chicago Bears might look to build a new stadium next to Soldier Field, but Arlington Heights is still hopeful for the NFL team to move there.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- Some indications now point to the possibility of the Chicago Bears staying in Chicago, and they may be even closer to Soldier Field than originally expected.

Demolition crews continue work at the site of the former Arlington Park Race track, and there is little left of the familiar grandstands and structures.

While the Bears paid nearly $200 million for the land, they have yet to commit to putting a new stadium there. In fact, the latest stadium site that is under consideration is just a few yards away from their current home on the lakefront.

The Bears are now considering building a new stadium on what is now the south parking lot next to Soldier field, sources told ABC7.

Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce CEO Jon Ridler said local officials are still making progress in their talks with the Bears about moving to their city.

"The Bears are doing their due diligence in other areas to make sure this is the right place for them," Ridler said. "And we're confident it is."

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

Some observers believe Arlington Heights is where the team will ultimately wind up.

"I think Arlington Heights makes the most sense," WSCR radio host Danny Parkins said. "You still get to call yourself the Chicago Bears. You get to own the stadium and the land."

The valuable lakefront land owned by the Chicago Park District was once considered for a museum for the works of filmmaker George Lucas, but strenuous objections from Friends of the Parks played a role in Lucas instead building it in California.

Friends of the Parks has also objected to the Bears building there. They issued statement saying "Friends of the Parks most certainly will continue in its historic role of fending off attempts to develop real estate on the people's lakefront for private interests."

"If Friends of the Parks can stop George Lucas, my bet is they can stop George McCaskey too." WSCR radio host Matt Spiegel said.

The Bears have also met with a number of other communities who have invited them to move. Arlington Heights officials said they are encouraged by recent progress in talks.

"All indications that we've received from the folks working on this is sooner rather than later we'll have some movement here in Arlington Heights," said Ernie Rose with Touchdown Arlington.

The Bears offered no comment specifically about the south lot of Soldier Field. They instead referred to a statement they issued back in September, saying they continue to explore all appropriate opportunities throughout the Chicago area.