Bears begin demolishing Arlington International Racecourse grandstand

The Bears are stressing that demolition does not mean the team will necessarily develop the property for a new stadium. They bought the land for $197.3 million with that intent but have since grown dissatisfied with its property tax assessment.

SHARE Bears begin demolishing Arlington International Racecourse grandstand
A worker sprays water to keep the dust down as the excavator begins to demolish the Arlington Park grandstands on Friday.

A worker sprays water to keep the dust down as the excavator begins to demolish the Arlington Park grandstands on Friday.

Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

The Bears began demolishing the grandstands at Arlington International Racecourse on Friday afternoon, the latest step toward flattening the 326-acre property the team bought earlier this year.

The Bears are stressing that demolition does not mean the team will necessarily develop the property for a new stadium. They bought the land for $197.3 million with that intent but have since grown dissatisfied with the expense of its property tax assessment.

Team spokesman Scott Hagel said two weeks ago that the assessment “fails to reflect the property is not operational and not commercially viable in its current state.” He said then that the plan to build a stadium in Arlington Heights was “at risk.”

Bears president/CEO Kevin Warren has since met with Naperville mayor Scott Wehrli and had a Zoom conversation with new Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson. Waukegan officials reached out to the team, too.

The Bears began interior demolition of the racetrack May 30; it will be completed by the end of the summer. They started to tear down the grandstands and their entrances Friday, using three excavators. That work is expected to take about two weeks.

The Bears will take down the paddock and office in the fall; that’s expected to be finished by the end of the year.

The Bears, who have played at Soldier Field since 1971, closed escrow on the Arlington Heights property in February.

An excavator starts to demolish the Arlington Park grandstands on Friday.

An excavator starts to demolish the Arlington Park grandstands on Friday.

Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

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