(The Center Square) – The Chicago Bears have called Solider Field home since 1971. Over the past two years, the Bears have been evaluating moving to a location in Arlington Heights, but now there are rumblings of a move to the suburb of Naperville.
In February, the Chicago Bears announced that they would be purchasing the Arlington International Racecourse property for $197.2 million with the hopes of building a new multi-billion dollar stadium and entertainment complex. However, those conversations have stalled due to high taxes in the Arlington Heights area as the racetrack was reassessed and valued at the $197 million mark, up from $33 million, increasing the property’s real estate taxes substantially.
Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported that Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli sent a letter to Kevin Warren, the Bear’s president and CEO, to discuss the possibility of building a new stadium in Naperville rather than in Arlington Heights and that the Bears higher-ups met with Wehrli to discuss the move.
In his letter, Wehrli noted that Naperville has Metra that connects for easy transportation to and from a possible stadium, as well as multiple sites he believes would be available to build the stadium.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, told the Center Square that he believes Chicago is the best spot for the team but understands that they are a business.
“Chicago is the best market for the Bears,” Ford said. “What is happening now with them, though, is that they are being business people.”
The move could drastically change how the next home of the Bears operates and could mean greater revenue for businesses and other services.
Ford said that is a reason to build the Bears the stadium the team wants.
“We cannot cut our nose off to spite our face thinking that this is just about the Chicago Bears. This is bigger than the Bears. We have to look at the future of what this could mean for revenue,” Ford said. “The more people and the more seats that we have for attendance is good for businesses around the stadium, and it’s good for the state too.”
The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field is up in 2033, but the team can pay $84 million for an early release in 2026.