Bears Latest NFL Franchise With Designs on Mega Stadium

    • The Chicago Bears placed a bid on a racetrack in the city's northwest suburbs, which would make an enticing location for a new stadium.
    • The team is currently negotiating renovations with the Chicago Parks Department, which owns Soldier Field.

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The Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars have expanded their stadiums into year-round commerce areas. Now the Chicago Bears want to get in on the fun.

The team submitted a bid to purchase Arlington International Racecourse as a potential site for a new stadium.

  • Their current lease at downtown’s Soldier Field runs through 2033.
  • The 326-acre horse racing facility in Arlington Heights is about 30 miles from downtown Chicago but would be conveniently located for many of the team’s fans in the northern half and northwest suburbs of the city.
  • A new stadium could also allow the team to expand capacity beyond Soldier Fields’ 61,500 — as well as build a stadium with a roof that could attract events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

The Bears would be following the lead of teams like the Cowboys in creating a multi-use mega stadium complete with restaurants and shopping centers. The Jaguars are planning a $441 million football facility next to their stadium.

Not every team is going that route, however. The Buffalo Bills’ new stadium is likely to be much like their current one.

The Bears are currently in talks with the city on renovations, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the racetrack bid a “negotiating tactic.” Soldier Field’s 2001-2003 renovation cost a reported $733 million, including $432 million in taxpayer dollars. 

The Arlington Racecourse is currently owned by Churchill Downs, which has said that it will not operate the track beyond this year.