Amidst the news that the Chicago Bears have signed a purchase agreement for the former Arlington International race track, it's time to dream. What kind of dream you ask? Well, its time to dream of the future, specifically the Bears' new home in Arlington Heights.
The news regarding the Bears' potential move to the northwest suburbs has triggered numerous reactions from fans. Some fans are all for the move, and even hope it happens sooner rather than later. As for the other group, they continue to clammer about how the Bears need to remain in Chicago in order to be the "Chicago Bears".
For starters, the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, and both New York franchises don't play within the city limits they represent. Sure, in terms of mileage from Solider Field to Arlington Heights its a farther trip than the aforementioned teams. However, Chicago has more resources in terms of transit to get fans to the game in the suburbs. The point being, the team can play outside the city limits that it represents. As a matter of fact, many teams do.
Now, let's turn to the fun part. It's time to imagine what a brand new stadium, with surrounding amenities, would look like. Currently, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California sits on 298 acres of land, housing not only the stadium, but also retail locations, commercial office space, a hotel, green space, and residential space. Arlington Park is 326 acres of land. Let's start to dream.
Taking a page out of SoFi Stadium's book, why wouldn't the Bears want to have a hotel? Not only could the hotel house the visiting team that they're set to play, but they could also open it up for business 365 days a year. The assumption here is that the Bears will own the stadium and anything surrounding it, so that's a consistent measure of income for the team year-round.
Another team in Chicago made a similar move. The Chicago Cubs built a hotel right next to Wrigley Field with hopes of bringing business in as baseball season rolls in Chicago. That influx of income will not only be beneficial for the Bears, but it will surely be a gorgeous hotel for guests to stay at. The allure of luxury alone will make the hotel a destination point near the stadium.
Now that sports betting is legal in the state of Illinois, why wouldn't the Bears want to have a sportsbook on the same land as their stadium? This should be a no-brainer as well after the Bears announced their exclusive deal with BetRivers as the official sportsbook of the team.
Now, with plenty of space to accommodate, the Arlington Park location could house a spectacular sportsbook that rivals some of the best casinos in the state. The Bears' new fancy sportsbook could even be as big as ten times the size of the sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and still be microscopic on the plot of land.
Need we say more? A state-of-the-art sportsbook not only looks good on game day, but it also provides an attraction for year-round income for the NFL's oldest franchise.
Ah yes, restaurants and retail are something that the Arlington Park location could add and immediately be different in comparison to Soldier Field. If you've ever been to Soldier Field, the nearest restaurant that isn't a concession stand in the stadium is about a 15-20 minute walk. Most of those places are also on Michigan Ave.
The Bears and city of Chicago discussed a plan to add some restaurants around Solider Field and the museum campus, but nothing has happened. Instead, the Bears can build their new beauty of a stadium, then go ahead and put these prime spots up for auction. All the top restaurants in and around the city of Chicago will flock to be near the newest NFL stadium.
In addition to restaurants, the team can choose what kind of retail shops they would like to have located near the stadium as well. Attracting some top retail outlets would be another way for the Bears to bring in income on the other 350+ days of the year that the Bears don't play at home.
SoFi Stadium went ahead and added residential space onto their 298-acre plot of land. Why couldn't the Bears do something similar? Sure, living in Arlington Heights isn't like living in downtown Chicago, but having some beautiful residential space could attract a lot of people to the suburbs.
In addition, those living on the land would also have easy access to the stadium and all the other beautiful amenities that will likely join it on the 326-acre plot of land. In addition, if the Bears add more than what we've listed above, then those living on the plot of land will have an incredible experience within walking distance of their homes.
Its early in the process. The Bears have signed the purchase agreement but this dream is still years in the future. That said, the Bears can have one of the most impressive stadiums and surrounding spaces in the entire league. The craziest part? It will be in the beautiful, small northwest suburb of Arlington Heights and will become a crown jewel of the Chicagoland area.