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It’s Now A 5-Way Race To Become The Chicago Bears' Next Home

A new entrant is making a play for the Chicago Bears’ attention now that the team has made it clear it is open to options other than Arlington International Racecourse for a $5B suburban stadium and entertainment complex.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin this week fired off what he called a letter of interest to Bears President Kevin Warren, calling on team officials to consider the state’s second-biggest city for their new home.

Downtown Aurora

“The opportunity to partner with the historic Chicago Bears as you search for the perfect new home is one we are eager to take on,” Irvin wrote in a two-page letter released late Tuesday, according to several media reports. “Welcoming a historic organization such as the Chicago Bears would enhance our bold vision for Aurora and will provide the Chicago Bears with a new home to begin the next phase of your storied history.”

The letter comes amid a property tax kerfuffle over Arlington Heights land the Bears purchased for $192.7M earlier this year. Bears management has complained new Cook County property assessments could make building on the site of the racetrack prohibitive, releasing a statement saying the project “is at risk in Arlington Heights.”

On Monday, Warren told a forum of Arlington Heights residents the team wouldn't proceed without an agreement on the tax bill, which the Bears said came in three times higher than 2021 values, even after an adjustment.

The tax standoff set off a series of letters and meetings with other communities and the city of Chicago vying for the team’s attention. Naperville was first out of the gate with an offer earlier this month, and Waukegan followed about a week later. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Mayor Brandon Johnson has launched a discussion with the team, although the specifics of what Chicago would offer are thin on the ground.

Irvin’s pitch points to Aurora’s transportation access as well as several new or planned developments in the city, including the proposed $360M Hollywood Casino Aurora resort, a new development in the Fox Valley Mall area and redevelopment that would bring new housing units and retail space downtown.

Aurora officials said in a press release provided to the Chicago Tribune that “representatives of the Chicago Bears organization responded quickly and positively.”