Arlington Heights set to launch massive planning process for new Bears stadium

As the Bears played Pittsburgh on Monday night’s nationally televised broadcast, Arlington Heights community hall officials were preparing for the extensive review and approval process for the team’s proposed new stadium in Arlington. Park.

This could include bringing in consultants to help with the massive redevelopment of the racetrack site, conducting a financial cost-benefit analysis, and working with NFL team management on a business plan. land use that will address all concerns.

The internal effort should involve nearly every department in the village, including community planning and development, construction and life safety, finance, police, fire, public works, and corporate services.

“The redevelopment project there will be like no project any of us have ever worked on,” Village Superintendent Randy Recklaus told village staff and board members during the meeting. the first night of discussions for the 2022 village budget.

Amid the effects of the pandemic on public health and the economy, 2021 “has been a very long year,” Recklaus said.

‘Those of you who think 2022 will be slower need look no further than the top right corner of this slide,’ said the main village administrator, referring to a photo of thoroughbred horses coming out of the now closed racecourse bend. .

The review process is expected to take much of 2022 as the closing of the Arlington Park team’s pending $197.2 million purchase is not expected until late 2022 or early of 2023.

As Mayor Tom Hayes hinted a month ago, Recklaus confirmed Monday that village officials plan to hire consultants to help village staff with the large-scale redevelopment. Officials are considering what kind of help they might need, based on the experiences of other municipalities that have reviewed and approved similar stadium projects. Further discussions are planned in the coming weeks.

The village finance department will also carry out an analysis of the impacts of the proposed redevelopment.

“Although it’s very different, we have to look at it with the same values ​​and standards as we do with any other development,” Recklaus said.

The exact budgetary and operational impact of the various studies and research required for the redevelopment of Arlington Park-Bears is currently unknown, Recklaus wrote in his budget summary.

He added during the meeting that the village will need to be “adaptable and nimble” amid the likelihood of mid-year budget changes related to the redevelopment of Arlington Park.

But there is at least one line item in the proposed 488-page spending plan tied to the project: a $50,000 placeholder for professional consulting services.

This may be linked to what Deputy Village Manager Diana Mikula called “public awareness” as part of the redevelopment.

The village is also budgeting $50,000 for a fireworks vendor to put on a show at a new location to be determined, as Arlington Park had long hosted an exhibit around July 4. Village officials say they are working with their counterparts in the Arlington Heights Park District on a potential location and program.

Recklaus said the Bears project will place “significant demands” on village staff time and compete with other initiatives over the coming year.

“I’m going to have to say ‘no’ to a lot of the ideas that come up because it’s going to be something that’s going to take up a lot of our bandwidth, and we’re just going to have to accept that,” Recklaus says.

Louisa R. Loomis