Demolition permit issued for Bears’ new stadium site in Arlington Heights

For decades, Arlington Park withstood pounding hooves. In mere days, it could fall to swiping claws.

The Chicago Bears are closer to building a new stadium after the village of Arlington Heights issued a demolition permit at the former Arlington International Racecourse horse track site, where the NFL team is planning a $5 billion gameday venue, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The permit is designated for the interior portion, marking the first phase of the teardown. The Bears expect to start the process Tuesday, without using explosives or implosion to execute the job, according to a team representative.

Village spokesperson Avis Meade said Arlington Heights and Cook County would review and approve demolition plans for the exterior buildings on the site. In total, the job is expected to cost around $3.8 million, with $1.48 million coming from the first phase of the tear-down. The team posted a plan for removing demolition debris on its website.

The Bears finalized a deal to pay $197 million for the racecourse property in February. In addition to the stadium, the project is slated to include residential, commercial and entertainment aspects.

The team has faced its fair share of challenges in pursuit of a new venue, as it plans to move on from the historic Soldier Field, where the team has played on Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline since the 1920s.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi recently reset the land value of the former racecourse to $197 million, a staggering increase from its previous tax value of roughly $33.5 million. The Bears are in the process of appealing the assessment.

The team is also currently negotiating a property tax battle with a trio of school districts whose assessments could also increase as a result of the new stadium, the outlet said. The districts have suggested the team settle on a $95 million valuation of the land, which the team’s President Kevin Warren called a “nonstarter.”

— Quinn Donoghue 

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