Bears Announce Plans to Commit $2 Billion for New, Domed Chicago Stadium

The Bears might remain in Chicago after all.

In a watershed development in the team’s ongoing stadium saga, the Bears announced that they would be willing to invest $2 billion in private money into a publicly-owned, domed stadium south of Soldier Field in the city, ESPN reported.

While no official designs have been unveiled yet, sources reveal the stadium will likely sit south of Soldier Field, with parking remaining in the south lot. This stadium is expected to feature community amenities that will be available all year.

“The Chicago Bears are proud to contribute over $2 billion to build a stadium and improve open spaces for all families, fans and the general public to enjoy in the City of Chicago,” Bears team president and CEO Kevin Warren said in a statement to ESPN. “The future stadium of the Chicago Bears will bring a transformative opportunity to our region — boosting the economy, creating jobs, facilitating mega events and generating millions in tax revenue. We look forward to sharing more information when our plans are finalized.”

Plans for the public’s share of the funding for the new stadium are not yet known.

Monday’s announcement comes over a year after the Bears closed on the property that once housed the Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Illinois, about 27 miles northwest of Downtown Chicago.

“Finalizing the purchase does not guarantee the land will be developed, but it is an important next step in our ongoing evaluation of the opportunity,” the team wrote in an open letter to the public in February 2023.

As of now, that land in suburban Chicago remains undeveloped.

Still, when the team announced that it would consider an Arlington Heights stadium, it sounded an alarm for fans, politicians and Chicago loyalists who clamored for the team to remain in the city.

At this point, any new facility would represent an upgrade for the legendary franchise that plays its home games at Soldier Field, the NFL’s smallest stadium with a 61,500-seat capacity.

According to the ESPN report, the Bears intend to stay put until a new stadium is ready.

Once that happens, they plan to demolish everything except the colonnades and create public parks and sports fields on the site. The team’s lease at Soldier Field is due to expire in 2033.

The Bears’ plans to invest money into developing a new stadium was welcome news to city officials.

“I have said all along that meaningful private investment and a strong emphasis on public benefit are my requirements for public-private partnerships in our city. The Chicago Bears plans are a welcome step in that direction and a testament to Chicago’s economic vitality,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson in a statement.

“I look forward to subsequent talks with the Bears, State leadership and community stakeholders about how we can continue to responsibly support the aspirations of the team, its fans and all residents of the City of Chicago,” Johnson added.

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