Chicago lands United Soccer League team, stadium as part of Amazon HQ2 bid
- Developer Sterling Bay has announced plans to build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium on the site of its intended $10 billion Chicago waterfront mixed-use development, according to the Chicago Tribune. The stadium will host Chicago's newly acquired United Soccer League (USL) franchise.
- The stadium, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, will have a retractable roof for a variety of events apart from USL matches, and is intended to be part of a larger live-work-play environment meant to draw in fans and tenants.
- The development, part of the 70-acre Lincoln Yards, is one of 10 Chicago sites submitted to Amazon as part of the online retail giant's search for its second North American headquarters, dubbed "HQ2."
Amazon wrapped up the bidding process for its new headquarters on October 19 and is currently evaluating the 238 proposals it received. In an early October report from Anderson Economic Group (AEG), Chicago ranked second behind New York City as the most likely spot for the company's HQ2. Even though the cost of doing business in the Big Apple is expensive, AEG said it qualified as the top spot because it met all of Amazon's other requirements for features like existing transportation systems, a qualified labor pool, available customers and supply chain access.
The Business Journals also took a stab at predicting where Amazon would make its second home, but Chicago didn't make that cut. The list, however, only considered regions where Amazon currently has big research and development hubs and that also met the company's HQ2 prerequisites. Those cities included Atlanta, Austin, TX; Boston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Portland, OR.
What might really grab Amazon's attention, though, is how much cities and states are willing to extend in the way of tax breaks and other incentives. New Jersey officials offered the most generous incentive package, totaling $7 billion. Irvine, CA, was second with $5 billion in breaks, followed by Philadelphia, which proposed a package worth up to $3 billion. While there are certainly consequences of such development — not all positive — the payoff would be considerable, likely mimicking Seattle's economic boom seen over the 20-plus years Amazon has done business there.
More than just a bid for the tech giant's new headquarters, the stadium represents a growing trend toward building live-work-play communities. Such developments, especially, are popular among tech companies like Facebook, Google and Verizon, that are using such plans to draw talent and provide the housing, retail and convenience to which city residents are often attracted.
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