The Chicago Bears are moving closer to building a $5 billion campus anchored by a $2.2 billion domed stadium.
The Bears have formally requested to begin the demolition of Arlington International Racecourse with the village of Arlington Heights.
A team official confirmed the team had submitted the necessary paperwork, but emphasized that it doesn’t guarantee the organization will build a stadium on the 326-acre property.
The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field runs through 2033, but they can exit the agreement starting in 2026 by paying the city of Chicago $90 million, with the amount decreasing every year until the lease ends.
The team could threaten to stay downtown longer if it feels financially slighted.
Earlier this year, Cook County assessor Fritz Kaegi reset the value of Arlington Park’s land at $197 million — almost six times the $33.5 million value it held when it was a horse track. The new assessment would cost the Bears an additional $15 million per year in property taxes.
“Paying property taxes is part of being a member of the community,” read a statement from the Bears. “[But] Arlington Park would not be redeveloped by anyone at such an excessive property tax rate.”
The team has filed an appeal with the Cook County Board of Review, which will hear the case in June.