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Bears brass discuss big plans for Arlington Heights property

Bears Chair George McCaskey and President & CEO Ted Phillips yesterday went "out of their way to say they didn’t set out to pursue" the 326-acre former racetrack site in Arlington Heights until they were "contacted by a selling agent," according to Patrick Finley of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. But "make no mistake: The Bears have grand plans for the site if and when the sale goes through." McCaskey and Phillips made that "clear in their first public comments about the property since they agreed to buy it in September." That likely includes "more than a stadium." It might be an "entertainment district with restaurants, bars and a hotel property." Escrow on the purchase the Bears made from Churchill Downs "won’t close until the end of this year or even the first quarter of 2023." McCaskey citing that timeline was "more reserved than Phillips" when asked about what might be a "franchise-altering decision: leaving Soldier Field ... to build a stadium in the northwest suburbs." The Bears have a lease at Soldier Field through '33, though they "could pay to leave sooner." Staying on the lakefront "seems unlikely." Phillips said the Bears’ "focus for long-term development is exclusively on that property at Arlington Heights" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11).

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