The conceptual plans released earlier this week from the Chicago Bears about what they might construct in Arlington Heights follows a recent trend: sports teams are interested in stadiums and all the other development around those facilities.
The plans revealed Tuesday by the Bears call for a multipurpose entertainment district anchored by a stadium that could host the Super Bowl, college football playoffs and college basketball Final Four, with an adjoining commercial/retail and housing district. While cautioning that the long-term vision for the entire property is a work in progress, the team said the site could include restaurants, offices, a hotel, fitness center, parks and open spaces.
The team’s open letter provided a series of economic projections, saying the large-scale redevelopment would provide “considerable” economic benefits to Cook County, the region and state.
For instance, construction would create more than 48,000 jobs, result in $9.4 billion in economic impact in the region, and provide $3.9 billion in labor income to workers, the team said.
The development would generate $16 million in annual tax revenue for the village, $9.8 million for the county and $51.3 million for the state, according to the Bears.
Yes, a stadium is necessary for football but teams now want to develop more land and generate additional revenues adjacent to the sports playing surface. If they help generate such development and/or retain an ownership stake in the surrounding development, this can both bring in significant annual revenue and further boost the value of their franchise.
This also follows on-trend development ideas where a mixed-use property helps ensure a regular flow of activity. Instead of separating land uses in different places, putting them all together can create synergy and additional revenues.
Another way to think about it is that a lot of sports teams are in the land development business. How exactly this fits with a goal of fielding a winning team might get complicated.