The Chicago Bears' search for a new stadium is expanding beyond Arlington Heights after a tax issue arose that could spark the end of the proposed stadium in the area. Specifically, the Bears note that Cook County has assessed its property taxes to a level that the franchise feels is too high to potentially make it a viable home for a new stadium. While the team says it is still working with the Arlington Heights location, it added that "it is no longer our singular focus."
"The Chicago Bears goal of building the largest single development project in Illinois history led by billions of dollars in private capital investment, and the jobs and economic benefits generated, is at risk in Arlington Heights," the team said in a statement released Friday, via NBC 5 Chicago. "The stadium-based project remains broadly popular in Arlington Heights, Chicagoland and the state. However, the property's original assessment at five times the 2021 tax value, and the recent settlement with Churchill Downs for 2022 being three times higher, fails to reflect the property is not operational and not commercially viable in its current state.
"We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus. It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the State of Illinois."
The franchise officially closed on the Arlington Heights site earlier this year and was eyeing an. Demolition has already begun on the site -- previously owned by Churchill Downs -- last month and the team said in this statement that this process will continue even as the future plans for the site are now in limbo.
The Bears met with Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli on Friday after he reached out to the franchise last week to highlight the city's benefit of hosting the new stadium, via CBS Chicago. Naperville, Illinois, is in DuPage County, so the organization may not be taxed as high as it would be if it proceeded forward with the Arlington Heights location in Cook County.
The Bears cannot exit their lease with Solider Field, their primary stadium since 1971, until 2026.