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Design & Development

Bears shift stadium focus to site near Soldier Field

Featured image credit: Sea Cow/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED/Edited for size

The Chicago Bears are planning on building a new stadium near Soldier Field, marking a shift in focus for the NFL team after it had earmarked Arlington International Racecourse as the site for a new home.

Soldier Field, the Bears’ current home, has a capacity of 61,500 and is the smallest stadium in the NFL. The Bears’ current lease deal at the stadium is due to run until 2033, although the team could break the agreement for $84m (£66m/€77m) as of 2026.

In May last year, the Bears commenced demolition work on Arlington International Racecourse after finalising a deal to acquire 326 acres of property. However, a week later the team revealed that Arlington International Racecourse was no longer its singular focus for a new stadium.

Last week, Related Midwest, the developer behind a proposed new ballpark for Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox said that talks are being held over a financing partnership that could also incorporate a new home for the Bears.

The Bears have today (Monday) provided an update on their plans for a new stadium, with chief executive Kevin Warren expressing a commitment to remaining in the City of Chicago, which has been trying to keep the Bears at Soldier Field.

ESPN reported today that the Bears will invest more than $2bn in private money into a new domed stadium and park space. The report, citing a source familiar with the matter, said the new stadium would be immediately south of Soldier Field.

In a statement provided to ESPN, Warren said: “The Chicago Bears are proud to contribute over $2bn to build a stadium and improve open spaces for all families, fans and the general public to enjoy in the City of Chicago.

“The future stadium of the Chicago Bears will bring a transformative opportunity to our region – boosting the economy, creating jobs, facilitating mega events and generating millions in tax revenue. We look forward to sharing more information when our plans are finalised.”

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson welcomed the Bears’ statement. “I have said all along that meaningful private investment and a strong emphasis on public benefit are my requirements for public-private partnerships in our city,” he said.

“The Chicago Bears’ plans are a welcome step in that direction and a testament to Chicago’s economic vitality. I look forward to subsequent talks with the Bears, State leadership and community stakeholders about how we can continue to responsibly support the aspirations of the team, its fans and all residents of the City of Chicago.”

The Bears would reportedly stay at Soldier Field until a new stadium is built. Once the team moves into the new stadium, Soldier Field would be demolished and replaced with public parks and athletics facilities.

Soldier Field, the Bears’ home since 1971, opened in 1924 and underwent a $690m renovation project in 2002.