While news of the Bears' potential move to a new stadium in Arlington Heights has remained a bit of a question mark for fans, team execs gave a timing update on their plans this week.
Speaking during a press conference to introduce their new team president and CEO, leadership noted that they still intend to close on their deal to purchase Arlington Park this quarter - though fans likely shouldn't expect a big announcement just yet.
While the Bears anticipate closing this quarter, the team made it clear there’s a lot of work left to be done, including getting property tax certainty and locking down infrastructure funding.
“Those are the heavy lifts,” Ted Phillips said.
The Bears want to be absolutely certain they leave no stone unturned before closing, too. Considering Arlington Park is a 326-acre property, there are a lot of stones.
“The analogy I offer to people is if you’re closing on a piece of land or a house, it’s a quarter-acre lot, the title process is fairly straightforward,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said. “Usually it takes a couple of months. This site is massive. And there’s a lot to go through, both in terms of physical due diligence, entitlement due diligence and financial due diligence. That takes a long time. We want to make sure we get it right. We want to be methodical about it. We don’t want any surprises along the way.”
New President and CEO Kevin Warren also noted there was much still to be done.
“You need to plan before you start digging,” Warren said. “I think what makes U.S. Bank Stadium so special, we spent almost a year planning, and planning is critical. That’s what I appreciate about the McCaskeys, they support the planning process. I think that will be really critical from that standpoint and I know we’re focused on Arlington Park and that stadium development project, I looked forward to leaning in to the stadium development project. But I think the biggest thing we can do is to make sure we’re methodical and detailed and we take the time to plan it properly.”
Now that Warren is officially on board as the next Bears president/CEO, a move to the suburbs feels like even more of a foregone conclusion. The Bears cast a wide net of more than 20 candidates when searching for Ted Phillips' replacement and stadium construction experience wasn’t a prerequisite, but it’s clear the Bears saw Warren’s experience building U.S. Bank Stadium as COO of the Vikings as a big bonus.
“The fact that he has been in the Chicago area for the last almost four years, he has made a lot of connections,” Phillips said. “And you can feel his energy and passion just listening to him. I’m excited about him infusing that energy and passion into the club and into everything we do.”
This leads to the No. 1 question: when will the new home of the Chicago Bears be open and ready to host football games, concerts and more?
“I’ll be able to answer that question to you in about six months when I’m able to sit down and really review things,” Warren said. “It wouldn’t be proper for me to say it. I’ve got to really sit down and get the information downloaded. I’ll be able to answer that (in six months). I’d be guessing right now.”
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