As the future home of the team remains up in the air, the NFL club's top executive met with residents in the northwestern suburb.
"What we have to do is figure out if Arlington Heights is legitimately a viable option. Or is it not," said Chicago Bears President & CEO Kevin Warren.
Held at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, it marked the first public meeting organized by ‘Touchdown Arlington’ – a coalition of community stakeholders advocating for the Bears to relocate to Arlington Heights. It was a full house, with all 320 available complimentary tickets pre-reserved prior to the doors opening.
"We deserve a new venue, we deserve a dome venue," said Warren. "We should not be losing out to other cities, such as Minneapolis and Indianapolis and Detroit to be able to host the Super Bowl and the Final Fours and College Football Playoff, and Big Ten Football Championship and major, massive concerts year-round, not just in the summer."
In a meeting that lasted just over an hour, Warren fielded questions about the future of the team and where Arlington Heights stands in its playbook.
"We need to make sure it makes sense and is a win-win-win situation," said Warren. "We have been contacted by multiple municipalities."
As the demolition of Arlington Park continues, team officials, last month, shared that they began looking into alternate sites after a property tax assessment was much higher than anticipated.
Since that announcement, they've received pitches from Naperville and Waukegan, and have met with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.
"We’re not trying to skirt any taxes, we’re all for paying taxes and we’ve showed we want to pay more taxes that have been paid before. But as any business person would do, is that you have to have certainty from a tax standpoint, and that’s one of the things we’re asking for right now, is certainty," said Warren.
Following the meeting, community members said they felt it was productive.
"I’ve got four PSLs sitting out there so I’m concerned about how they’re going to manage that," said Susan Osiol, who lives in Mount Prospect. "I think that [Warren]’s putting everything on the table, he’s being very honest."
Meanwhile, Touchdown Arlington will continue to push for the former horse racing track to become the team's permanent home.
"We’re talking jobs, we’re talking significant tax dollars, we’re talking friends for our local charities, opportunities for our businesses," said Ernie Rose of Touchdown Arlington. "We want to keep the dialogue open so both sides feel like we’re making progress toward a deal."
Warren said the Bears will continue to explore other options.
At the same time, the demolition of Arlington Park will remain underway. It is expected to be leveled by the end of the year.