Chicago Bears reportedly mulling Soldier Field parking area as new stadium site as talks resume with schools over Arlington Heights location

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The Chicago Bears continue to check out a variety of sites in and around Chicago — including the site of Soldier Field — as potential homes for a new stadium, officials said Wednesday.

The Bears are doing due diligence on the viability of the south parking lot at Soldier Field as the location for their next stadium, according to unnamed sources cited by The Parkins & Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 The Score.

The Bears have proposed building a $5 billion enclosed stadium and entertainment and housing complex on the site of the closed Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights. The project has stalled while the team tries to negotiate favorable property taxes for the site.

The Bears reportedly are using the same surveying firm, Compass Surveying Ltd. in Aurora, that they used for Arlington Heights and other potential locations.

In response, the Bears would not confirm the report, but issued the following brief statement:

“As we stated in September earlier this year, we want to appropriately explore all opportunities across Chicagoland for the development of a world-class stadium.”

In September, Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren stated that the team was continuing a “methodical” process to find the best stadium solution.

“Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Brandon Johnson and his team, we have recently engaged in positive and productive discussions with the city of Chicago,” Warren said. “We also continue to have dialogue with officials in Arlington Heights and other Chicagoland locations about a Chicago Bears stadium project.”

While continuing such discussions this fall, the team did not pursue previous state legislative proposals for tax breaks to build a stadium — but a new legislative session starts in the new year.

The Bears have met with officials in Naperville. Aurora, Waukegan and Richton Park also expressed interest in hosting the team.

The parking area south of Soldier Field includes a garage and a ground-level lot. The area is party central for tailgating fans.

The area once was recommended by a mayoral task force as the site of the proposed Lucas Museum.

But “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, who planned to house his significant art and movie memorabilia collection there, dropped his plan in 2016 after the nonprofit group Friends of the Parks filed a lawsuit seeking to block the proposal. Any plans for a new stadium there might face similar objections.

The Bears have also resumed communications with school officials regarding the Arlington Heights site, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes told the Tribune. That comes after the two sides had reached an impasse over property taxes and broken off negotiations for months.

Palatine Community Consolidated School District 15, Arlington Heights-based Township High School District 214 and Palatine-based Township High School District 211 have sought millions of dollars more in property taxes from the site.

To lower those taxes, the team this summer demolished the former Arlington Park and related buildings.


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