Arlington Heights Residents Express Resistance To Sportsbook Possibility

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on November 14, 2022
arlington heights bears stadium sportsbook opposition

Residents of Arlington Heights openly object to the addition of a sportsbook at the site of a new Chicago Bears stadium. At the same time, the process of actually opening a Bears stadium sportsbook is very much in its infancy and may never happen at all.

Last Friday, the Arlington Heights Village Board approved a zoning code change with significant implications. The zoning change would allow a sports betting facility at the site of the Arlington International Racecourse. In 2021, the Bears signed a $197.2 million purchase agreement with Churchill Downs for the property.

The racecourse is part of the team’s $5 billion proposal to create a new NFL stadium and mixed-use facility on the 326-acre Arlington Park site.

Pushback from local residents on Bears stadium sportsbook idea

Some residents, however, are not on board with the potential new addition. A new stadium for the Bears, including a physical sportsbook on-site, is just part of the proposal that the NFL franchise made to Arlington Heights leaders earlier this month.

Chris Hiebert, an Arlington Heights resident, objected to adding a sportsbook.

“I moved to Arlington Heights to avoid the city. I don’t see a pressing need to bring more of the city to Arlington Heights.”

Village leadership emphasized that the zoning change only allows for the possibility of a new sportsbook. The board did not vote to approve one.

A staff memo read:

“At this time, the Village is proposing adding to the Overlay Zone as a Special Use a Sports Wagering Facility. It is important to note that this Ordinance does not approve a Sports Wagering Facility.”

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes clarified, “we’re not approving a sports wagering facility this evening.”

Sports betting important to Bears executives

Regardless, the Bears have stated how vital an Illinois sportsbook on the site of a stadium where they play their home games is essential to their future plans. That applies regardless of the stadium’s location.

“We believe that a sports betting facility will be an integral part of the new stadium development corridor,” Bears General Counsel Cliff Stein said.

“This is really state of the art for new developments of professional sports stadiums across the country and it really would put you at a competitive disadvantage [to not have the facility alongside the stadium].”

Plans for a new Bears stadium are still in early development. There’s no guarantee the team will leave Soldier Field in Chicago at this juncture. The team’s lease on that stadium in Chicago’s Museum Campus area runs through 2033.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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