ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — The Chicago Bears received a boon to begin the downgrading of the former Arlington Park racetrack.
According to their website, The Village of Arlington Heights has approved a Phase 1 demolition permit for the former horse racing facility as the NFL franchise continues its efforts to build a new stadium on the site.
This permit allows the demolition of the grandstands, offices and jockey buildings located on the site to begin. Demolition permits for exterior building demolition will require approval from Arlington Heights and Cook County.
Each village will experience increased traffic around Arlington Park as interior demolition begins. Between 20 and 30 trucks are expected to arrive a day, with most of the demolition material going to West Chicago with another pickup point in Rolling Meadows.
Commuters will have access to the Arlington Park Metra stop along with parking as this first phase of demolition continues with 24-hour security remaining on site.
A full map of entry points for wrecker trucks is available here.
As of now, the Bears are in the early stages of getting a bylaw to build a domed stadium in Arlington Park along with a commercial and residential development. House Bill 610 was the first piece of legislation to implement this effort this May and was introduced by Rep. Martin Moylan (D-Plains).
This included a freeze on Arlington Park’s property tax assessment along with a $3 “ticket tax” to pay the existing debt for the 2002-03 renovation of Soldier Field. Unsure of the support it would receive, it was not brought before the legislature for a vote during this session, which ended in May.
“We owe it to ourselves, to our constituents, to get this right,” Rep. Moylan said during a May 17 debate on House Bill 610.
After signing a September 2021 purchase agreement, the Bears closed on the 326-acre Arlington Park property on Feb. 15 for $197.2 million. It is the most ambitious move for the franchise in its history to build a new stadium outside of Chicago.
After starting in Decatur in 1920, the Bears moved to Wrigley Field when they arrived in town in 1921 and remained there until 1970. The following year, they moved to Soldier Field, where they remain today, after extensive renovations to stadium in 2002 and 2003.
Since moving to Chicago, the Bears have only played regular season home games outside of the city twice. In 1970, they played one game at Northwestern University’s Dyche Stadium (now Ryan Field) in anticipation that the Cubs might have to use it in the National League playoffs or the World Series.
During the reconstruction of Soldier Field, the Bears played the entire 2002 season and the 2003 preseason at the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
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