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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Yet Another Proposal for a New Bears Stadium: The Parking Lot

  • Popular tailgating site becomes latest stadium site possibility for NFL team.
  • Location was previously considered for a George Lucas art and memorabilia collection.
The Chicago Bears logo is seen prior to a game against the New York Jets at Soldier Field.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears’ ongoing search for a site for its planned new stadium has led the team to a much more accessible option than previously presented by most other suitors.

After previously considering or receiving inbound interest from the city of Chicago and the suburban locales of Arlington Heights, Aurora, Naperville, Richton Park, and Waukegan, plus Country Club Hills, WSCR-AM is reporting a new area of focus by the team: a parking lot directly south of Soldier Field that is currently popular among tailgating Bears fans.

It remains unclear whether this site is a serious option for the team or a move to create leverage in talks with a prospective host town. But the Bears’ stadium saga remains one of the most closely watched issues across the NFL.

The Soldier Field parking lot site, meanwhile, has a prior history of thwarted development. In 2016, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas planned to house a significant art and movie memorabilia collection on the grounds but ultimately dropped that plan amid local opposition. 

“As we stated earlier this year, we want to appropriately explore all opportunities across Chicagoland for the development of a world-class stadium,” the Bears said following the WSCR report.

Big Aspirations

The team’s vision is to develop a $5 billion domed stadium and mixed-use development that would be capable of hosting major events such as the Super Bowl or the Final Four. Those marquee attractions, and others like it, currently skip the country’s third-largest media market due to its lack of a suitable facility.

A tax dispute with the city of Arlington Heights, where the team purchased the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse earlier this year, delayed the beginning of construction there, as originally intended, and talks broke off for months. That left the Bears without their most promising option. But city officials say they’ve resumed talks with the Bears.

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