Chicago Bears Reverse Course, Will Not Build Stadium On Arlington Property

Arlington Park | Horsephotos


According to several news reports, the Chicago Bears are now planning to build a new stadium within the city limits of Chicago. The Bears purchased Arlington Park and the surrounding property from Churchill Downs Incorporated in 2021 for $197.2 million and announced plans to build a stadium there. Since the purchase, the Arlington grandstand has been torn down, but the Bears did not start the process of developing the property.

Citing a source, is reporting that the Bears are ready to invest $2 billion in private money into a publicly owned domed stadium and park space that would feature year-round community amenities.

“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. “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.”

According to, the Bears began exploring options for a new stadium beyond Arlington Heights last summer when they announced that those plans were “at risk” as negotiations over property taxes reached a $100 million impasse.

Should the plans to build a stadium in Chicago come to fruition, it is expected that the Bears will put the Arlington property up for sale.

Dave McCaffrey, the executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, was skeptical that the Bears will actually follow through on the plans to build a stadium within the city limits. He believes the announcement may be nothing more than posturing to get a better deal.

“Even though they made that announcement I don't think Arlington is dead when it comes to building a stadium there,” McCaffrey said. “There are all sorts of political games being played. I don't think the situation is as definitive as they made it sound in that announcement. They are trying to get tax breaks and public funding for a stadium, and the announcement made today is often the sort of thing people do when they are trying to get money.”

McCaffrey said he doesn't foresee any scenario where a new buyer would emerge and construct a racetrack on the site. He noted that the current laws in Illinois do not allow for a racino to be built at Arlington.

“The Bears completely destructed Arlington and all its accouterments, the water tower, the barns, the dorm rooms, the vets offices, every single piece of anything that was built is gone. It's just a piece of vacant land. The amount of money it would take to rebuild a racetrack, barns, dorm rooms and all else that goes into a racing site would be a gigantic investment.”

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