Saturday, June 10, 2023

Could the site of the proposed Chicago Bears stadium in Arlington Heights also include a minor league baseball complex?

The Chicago Bears are making progress toward completing their purchase of Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, with officials saying the clock is ticking toward the deadline to seal the deal in 2023.

Village documents obtained by the Tribune show that the highest levels of the team’s administration, including chairman George McCaskey, have attended meetings for the purchase and subsequent construction of a new football stadium. Documents revealed that the team deposited $125,000 with the Village for a stadium proposal study, and included a proposal from a former baseball executive. Add a minor league baseball complex to the site.

In September 2021, the team announced that it had signed a purchase agreement to purchase assets from Churchill Downs Inc. for $197 million, pending final approval by both parties. Churchill Downs Inc. later closed the famous racetrack. The Bears would have to break their lease at Soldier Field to build a new stadium in Arlington.

The new baseball fields were proposed by William Larson, former general manager of the Kane County Cougars minor league team. In an email to Mayor Tom Hayes in February, Larson wrote that the baseball field would host non-draft college players from teams of four to six.

Larson stated that he had no financial or other formal backing for the proposal, and had not heard back from the Bears, but was asked by scouts and others in professional baseball to pursue his dreams of playing professionally. Requires unwanted players.

“I can even find out if they’re interested,” he said. “I knew it had a lot of potential.”

He estimated that 10 to 15 acres would be required for the project on the 326-acre site, but did not cite any funding or support for the deal.

He estimated that the games could attract around 450,000 fans a year.

The village forwarded the email to Bear. Village officials would encourage the team to consider the idea, Hayes said, but it is up to team officials to decide what to do with the site within village standards. Meanwhile, the village and team officials are continuing to meet to discuss the plans for the site, he said.

Bears vice president of communications Brandon Faber did not comment on the baseball proposal, but said the team is still trying to see if the site would work for a football stadium.

“We continue to work through the due diligence process on the Arlington Park property with our skilled team of land use experts,” Faber said. “While significant progress has been made, we still need to conduct extensive work and analysis to determine the feasibility of developing the site. Our expectation for a decision on whether we can purchase the property is in late 2022 or early 2023. made of.

The village’s first recorded meeting with bear representatives was on August 26, 2021, followed by meetings in October, February, March, April and June. Bayers officials also agreed to attend a training session on stadium safety this year.

An October meeting at the Village included McCaskey, Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips, and team lawyer Cliff Stein, among others, Village emails showed. Mayor Hayes, Village Manager Randy Reklaus and Planning and Development Director Charles Perkins, among others, ran for the village.

Hayes would not talk about the specifics of the discussion, but said progress was accelerating because of the Bears’ deadline for finalizing the deal by mid-2023.

He confirmed that due to the size of the site, its plan would include mixed-use developments featuring residential, commercial, retail and entertainment.

“Things are moving faster than the times the bears are operating under,” Hayes said. “We are working closely with the team to address their needs and ours, and things are moving forward. We are doing everything we can to make this a reality.”

Reklaus said Bear deposited $125,000 with the village to pay for the necessary advisory studies that the village would conduct in relation to the proposal.

Reklaus said such payments are not uncommon for projects that may require the hiring of a consultant to study traffic, safety, crowd control or other issues. A similar arrangement occurred when the former Sheraton Hotel near Arlington Park was studied before the apartments became known as Arlington Downs. The village has not conducted any such study for bears so far.

In March, the team announced that it had hired Manica Architecture, which designed the new stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders. The team also hired stadium development manager CAA icon and real estate investment firm Jones Lang LaSalle to work on the proposal.

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World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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