The Bears have bought some property. And although they’re not saying that they intend to use that property for a new stadium, that’s the clear message of the acquisition.
The team and Churchill Downs Incorporated have announced that a deal was signed this week for “the entire Arlington Park land parcel in the Village of Arlington Heights.”
“We are excited to have executed a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) for the Arlington Park property,” Bears president Ted Phillips said in a statement issued by the team. “We are grateful to Churchill Downs Incorporated for their efforts to reach this point. We also appreciate the support of Mayor Tom Hayes and the Village of Arlington Heights. Finalizing the PSA was the critical next step in continuing our exploration of the property and its potential. Much work remains to be completed, including working closely with the Village of Arlington Heights and surrounding communities, before we can close on this transaction. Our goal is to chart a path forward that allows our team to thrive on the field, Chicagoland to prosper from this endeavor, and the Bears organization to be ensured a strong future. We will never stop working toward delivering Bears fans the very best experience. We will continue to provide updates on our progress at the appropriate time.”
It doesn’t mean that the Bears will definitely build a new stadium there. The goal could be to use the acquisition of the property to leverage a better deal at Soldier Field.
The CEO of Churchill Downs (which has a separate gambling relationship with the Bears) bolsters the notion that the Bears could build a stadium on the Arlington Heights property.
“This has been an extraordinarily competitive bid process,” Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen said in the press release issued by the Bears. “Congratulations to the Chicago Bears for their professionalism and perseverance. It is clear they are committed to an exciting vision for their team and their fans. We wish them the greatest success and are excited for the opportunity this brings to the Village of Arlington Heights and the future economic development of this unique property.”
Arlington Heights mayor Tom Hayes got in on the public-comment act, too.
“I could not be more excited about the news that the Chicago Bears have signed a Purchase and Sale Agreement to buy the Arlington Park property in our community,” Hayes said. “My goal for any redevelopment has always been to put this prime piece of real estate to its highest and best use, and I can’t think of a higher and better use than this one. There is a long way to go as we begin this journey, and many issues for the community to discuss, but the Village is committed to working with the Bears organization and all stakeholders to explore this opportunity for Arlington Heights and the northwest suburban region.”
It remains to be seen whether Arlington Heights is a pawn or a player. As always, time will tell. As always, an NFL franchise will take full advantage of any and all opportunities to get the best deal they can, wherever that deal may require the team to play.