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Bears finalize $197.2 million purchase of Arlington Park

Mike Florio and Chris Simms detail why the Raiders were destined to release Derek Carr rather than pay him $40.4 million in guaranteed money, and share why the Saints and Jets make the most sense for his next stop.

The Bears announced Wednesday that they have closed on their $197.2 million purchase of 326 acres of property in Arlington Heights. The team cautioned, though, that much work still needs to be done before the $5 billion redevelopment of the shuttered Arlington Park racetrack site becomes a reality.

“Finalizing the purchase does not guarantee the land will be developed, but it is an important next step in our ongoing evaluation of the opportunity,” the Bears said in a long statement. “There is still a tremendous amount of due diligence work to be done to determine if constructing an enclosed state-of-the-art stadium and multi-purpose entertainment district is feasible.”

The Bears would privately finance construction of a domed (non-retractable roof) stadium, but on Wednesday, they again made a plea for public assistance for the project in order to make moving to the suburbs financially feasible.

“For the development to move forward, and for this effort to be financially feasible, a public-private partnership addressing predictable taxes and necessary infrastructure funding for public uses is essential,” the team wrote. “Public funds for infrastructure will provide regional improvements such as roads for better traffic flow and water drainage for residents throughout the area. This support, along with the team’s investment, will be crucial to ensuring the local and Illinois economies receive a dramatic, long-lasting influx of investment and new tax revenue of a magnitude never experienced before in the region.”

The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field runs through 2033. However, they can leave as early as 2026 by paying $90 million, and the price to cancel the lease prematurely drops with each passing year.