Chicago

Chicago Bears promise ‘first-class experience’ at stadium meeting

The Chicago Bears generated eager curiosity from followers and non-fans alike Thursday for a presentation of plans for a brand new domed stadium and leisure district in Arlington Heights.

Team officers drew applause from the a whole lot of individuals at Hersey High School after they stated the stadium could be enclosed, and that the group wouldn’t negotiate renovations at Soldier Field whereas pursuing the Arlington deal.

Bears Chairman George Halas McCaskey famous that many members of the McCaskey household, which owns a majority of the group, have lived within the northwest suburbs, together with Arlington Heights.

“We want to be good neighbors,” McCaskey advised the group. “We want what’s best for the community.”

The multibillion greenback project may take 10 years or extra to finish, McCaskey stated. He stated the group would wish authorities funding to assist make the project turn out to be a actuality.

“The Bears will seek no public funding for direct stadium structure construction,” McCaskey stated. “However … we will need help.”

Without infrastructure assist and “property tax certainty,” McCaskey stated, “the project as described tonight will not be able to move forward.”

Team leaders repeatedly stated that the 20 most up-to-date stadium building tasks within the nation had included public financing.

“We’re not asking for property taxes to be raised in Arlington Heights to fund the stadium construction,” McCaskey stated. “It’s not our part to say that property taxes for Arlington Heights residents won’t go up, but that might be for reasons that have nothing to do with this construction.”

Bears President Ted Phillips promised a “first-class experience” for followers, and to include public suggestions into the plans.

The plan additionally probably consists of higher-density multifamily residential buildings and decrease density townhomes officers stated, with buildings sometimes reaching 4 to eight tales close to the adjoining Metra practice station.

Planning consultants described a Station Square with locations to go earlier than and after the sport, with workplaces, retail, residences and townhomes, a lodge and a sports activities betting business.

Conceptual plans included a pond with a ship home for kayaking and canoeing, and “perhaps” a efficiency venue.

New entrances to the grounds would come with off-ramps from Route 53 that might go below Northwest Highway to the stadium, and new entrances off Euclid Avenue.

Phillips stated the stadium wouldn’t have a retractable roof as a result of its “prohibitive” value.

The crowd appeared receptive to the plans, applauding at varied factors throughout the presentation.

“Will tailgating be allowed? Oh yeah, baby,” Phillips stated.

And when officers stated there could be no on line casino on the location, the group cheered.

The group plans to have extra parking capability than what’s at the moment accessible at Soldier Field, they stated.

Brenda Zolott of Arlington Heights was taking notes at the again of the room.

“If I could snap my fingers and have it all materialize right now, I would. It’s giving me motivation to stay alive. If it happens soon enough, I might even be able to work in the retail section.”

When group management introduced “there is no plan B” for a distinct property improvement, she applauded.

People lined up two hours forward of time for the 7 p.m. meeting, and the group stretched across the constructing and out to the car parking zone of John Hersey High School within the northwest suburb.

Before the meeting began, these attending raised issues about property taxes, site visitors, and preserving the racetrack on the location of Arlington International Racecourse.

A handful of political advocates labored the road, handing out pamphlets encouraging residents to become involved in efforts to forestall public money from going into the proposed redevelopment.

“Property taxes are my main concern,” stated Justin Hegy, 37, of Palatine, who lives a couple of mile from the location, and wore a Bears shirt to the meeting. “Our property taxes keep going up every year.”

If taxes stayed the identical, Hegy stated, as a Bears fan, “I’d love it if they were in my backyard. I’ll ride my bike to the game.”

During the meeting, officers stated property taxes needs to be considerably greater than that generated by the racetrack.

Lisa Miller had taken day off of her job at Whole Foods to get in line earlier than 5 p.m. She is a Palatine resident, however stated she lives subsequent to the racetrack and has fond reminiscences of spending time there as a baby rising up in Arlington Heights.

Miller advised the Tribune she remembered watching and crying when the monitor burned down in 1985, and watching its reconstruction. She purchased her home partly as a result of it regarded out onto the monitor, she stated.

She stated she needed to see the Bears take note of parking and site visitors within the neighborhood surrounding the location.

“I want kids to be able to walk in my neighborhood,” she stated. “During any big huge racetrack events, that was not the case.”

She is against public money funding the event, together with the proposed leisure district. But if the project strikes forward, she stated she would wish to see “local farm-to-table restaurants” and smaller group occasions, like a farmers’ market, at the ability as soon as it was constructed.

Miller additionally stated she needed to see the Bears proceed the custom of getting fireworks on July 4th.

“I bought my house, if I walk out to the end of my driveway, I could see the fireworks every Fourth of July,” she stated. “And that would be really great if the Bears were to continue that tradition.”

Linda Gaio lives “a seven-minute walk” from the location. She stated she’d heard so much about how the proposal would improve the worth of her dwelling, however was skeptical. “My increased home value doesn’t mean anything unless I sell my house,” she stated.

Gaio had two primary questions for the Bears. One was what number of of her tax {dollars} would fund the project.

“I want to know if this is going to cost us anything,” she stated. She needed to know “if they could give us some sort of documentation, or maybe there’s some website or something where we could check the progress of these talks and the negotiations and how it’s gonna affect us residents.”

Gaio’s second concern was whether or not the group deliberate to protect any a part of the prevailing facility.

She stated it could be “the cherry on top — highly unlikely — if we could at least keep an element of the historic property, make it into a central arena or grandstand and make that into offices and all that stuff.”

Gerald Barrett, who owns Tugo Tea House in Arlington Heights, stated he’s cautiously optimistic concerning the Bears’ arrival within the village due to the purchasers it may entice for companies like his.

“What I’ve seen in the past in some cities, is that these sports centers are like year-round activity centers,” Barrett stated. “There’s an opportunity for small businesses in the area to maybe work with the organization, and maybe have a concession year-round.”

He’s undecided concerning the concept of utilizing taxpayer {dollars} to assist the Bears redevelop the location, however needed to see extra detailed plans earlier than making up his thoughts.

“If the Bears have the ability to do it on their own, they should do it on their own,” he stated.

He stated he’d wish to see proof that the redevelopment would profit the group past creating jobs if he have been going to assist public money into the project.

The group stated its “best-in-class” enclosed stadium might be worthy of internet hosting international occasions such because the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff and Final Four.

It’s all proposed for the 326-acre web site of Arlington International Racecourse, which closed completely to horse racing final year.In 2021, the Bears introduced a purchase order settlement to purchase the park from Churchill Downs Inc. The group is vetting varied features of the preliminary deal earlier than anticipating closing late this year or early subsequent year.

To make a transfer, the group must pay to interrupt its lease at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed topping the stadium with a $2 billion dome, however the Bears have stated they aren’t negotiating with town whereas the group is pursuing the Arlington deal.

The group’s announcement of its plans Tuesday included repeated warnings that the deal depends upon meeting varied necessities, resembling, “If we do close on the property, it does not guarantee we will develop it.”

The Bears stated they’d not ask for public money to build the stadium however would search taxpayer funding to assist develop the mixed-use space.

The group projected, with out but offering documentation, that building would have a $9 billion financial impression, with subsequent annual stimulus of 9,750 jobs and $1.4 billion yearly.

Economists have incessantly questioned such projections, warning that sports activities stadiums don’t sometimes make a very good return on funding for governmental our bodies.

Americans for Prosperity-Illinois, a part of a nationwide libertarian group backed by the conservative Koch brothers, introduced a petition to the village board Tuesday, searching for to ban public funding for the Bears or another non-public improvement.

The group additionally launched a ballot that discovered a majority of Arlington Heights voters supported the Bears coming to their village however opposed utilizing tax {dollars} for the transfer.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes has stated taxpayer contributions to the project could be a “last resort,” however has defended incentives resembling tax increment financing, or TIFs. A TIF would use will increase in property tax revenues on the racetrack web site to assist with the property’s improvement.

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The meeting is merely informational and the plans are nonetheless imprecise. The village would nonetheless maintain separate public hearings to think about any particular Bears proposal.

Julian Aguilar was exterior the meeting working the road on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian political advocacy group that’s organizing a petition to bar public money from going to any business entity trying to arrange in Arlington Heights — together with the Bears.

He stated he’d had a “legit friendly debate” with a number of of the residents in line.

“There’s a lot of people who think we don’t want the Chicago Bears here,” he stated. “Our big thing is just to make sure we protect Arlington Heights taxpayer dollars.”

Regardless, Aguilar stated, “It’s going to have a long-term effect on the residents here.”

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