Bears hire architect, other firms to prepare Arlington Heights stadium plans

The Chicago Bears have retained an architect and other consultants to help with preliminary plans for a new stadium and surrounding redevelopment at Arlington Park, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The team has hired at least three firms as part of its due diligence process for the 326-acre site it has under contract in Arlington Heights, a team spokesman told the Daily Herald Wednesday night.

That includes Manica Architecture, a Kansas City-based designer that will draw up initial stadium blueprints; CAA Icon, a Denver-based strategic management consulting firm for sports and entertainment facility owners, operators and professional teams; and Jones Lang LaSalle, the Chicago-based commercial real estate firm.

The companies have expertise in stadium planning projects, including Manica's design of the Las Vegas Raiders' new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, and CAA's work on the multiyear renovation of Wrigley Field.

The specific names of the consultants helping the team were revealed Wednesday, following team Chairman George McCaskey's announcement in January that the organization planned to hire outside vendors to help examine the Arlington Park property as a stadium site.

The effort is being led internally by Ted Phillips, the team's president and CEO who helped secure the deal that led to $690 million in renovations at Soldier Field two decades ago.

Last September, the Bears and Arlington Park owner Churchill Downs Inc. announced that the NFL franchise had inked a $197.2 million agreement for the racetrack site. Churchill CEO Bill Carstanjen said late last month that the deal isn't expected to close until the first half of 2023.

The Bears' Wednesday night revelation of their planning team comes a day after Churchill said it was moving many of Arlington Park's marquee horse races, including the Arlington Million, to the company's namesake track in Louisville, Kentucky. At the same time, Arlington's local managers are preparing to auction the track's surplus assets, goods, vehicles and equipment, after having sent out a request for proposals seeking an auctioneer.

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