The one (big) detail we know about Bears' design for Arlington Park stadium


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – We didn’t learn a lot about the Bears’ new stadium plans Thursday during their first community meeting about the development of the Arlington Park property.

There was a lot of talk about land use, transit-oriented spaces, tax benefits, and public perception. But talk about the actual plans for a new Bears home was limited. The Bears were adamant Thursday during the meeting at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights that the plan remains in the early, early stages.

The Bears are slated to close on the property in late 2022 or early 2023, but only one thing about the new design of the stadium is known.

It will be enclosed.

Bears CEO Ted Phillips spoke Thursday about the much-discussed decision to have the new home of the Bears be sheltered from the Chicago elements. His reasoning was clear.

“The stadium will be enclosed,” Phillips said. “Why? You can answer this. It can hopefully attract major events like a Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs, concerts, Final Fours. We don’t have a facility like that now.

“Second, the capacity hasn’t been determined. But our plan is for the capacity of the stadium, tailgating, parking lots all to be greater than what currently exists at Soldier Field. Finally, it will be designed to provide our fans with the first-class experience that they deserve.”

Now, the term “enclosed” can mean many things. But for the Bears, it means “fully enclosed.” No retractable roof.

Phillips noted during the Q&A portion of the event that the Bears’ plan is to have the new stadium fully enclosed. The Bears have done their homework on retractable roofs and believe the costs are “prohibitive” due to the mechanical issues that can arise. Phillips mentioned U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota as a fully enclosed stadium that still makes you feel like you are outside. U.S. Bank Stadium has a roof that is half glass.

The fully enclosed nature of the stadium was the only concrete detail we got about the stadium plans Thursday.

Bears chairman George McCaskey said the Bears would like to incorporate parts of the horse-racing history into the site. But it’s unclear how that will factor into the architecture of the new stadium should the Bears move forward with the purchase and development of the Arlington Park property.

The first of many community meetings on the Bears’ future home concluded after two hours at John Hersey High School, leaving many with more questions than answers about the future home of the Bears.

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