Arlington Heights rejects petition to ban public money for Chicago Bears development

Bears want public funding for $5B surrounding mixed-use development they have planned for area around stadium.

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Board rejects petition to ban public money for Bears development
Arlington Heights trustees rejected a petition to ban public money for a potential mixed-use Chicago Bears development near the race track.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- In a unanimous vote, Arlington Heights trustees rejected a petition on Monday night, giving the green light to potential public funding for development surrounding the proposed Chicago Bears stadium.

"We have a lot of work to do. There's a possibility of a new NFL stadium in our town, and you're wasting our time," said Trustee John Scaletta.

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All nine trustees were aligned in rejecting the petition, saying that the way it's written, it would not only prevent the village from providing incentives to the Chicago Bears, but also, any other project or business going forward.

"I do not support such an extreme amount of restrictive ordinance that prevents this board or any future board for making the needed financial decisions for the common good and for the best future of our village," said Trustee Nicolle Grasse.

The Bears have a preliminary $197 million agreement to buy the Arlington International Racecourse, with plans of building an enclosed stadium there.

The team said they will not ask for tax dollars to build the stadium itself. But, they do want public money for commercial and retail space, as part of a multi-purpose entertainment district.

The petition that was rejected tonight hoped to prevent the village from giving the Bears any tax breaks to do so.

"A lot of stadium deals like the one we saw in Chicago ended up costing the taxpayers over $400 million. The NFL is notorious for trying to get taxpayers incentives. We're trying to stop that from happening here," said Americans for Prosperity Illinois Deputy State Director Brian Costin. "It's really not the blessing to the economy that people would think. The Bears only play maybe 10 times a year. Of course, there would be other events, but, you know, it's really overstated to how much economic impact they would have. But, if it's such a great idea, why can't the Bears pay for that themselves?"

Residents on both sides voiced their opinion.

"Did the people who signed the petition actually know what the petition was for and what its purpose is and repercussions could be?" asked Laurie Taylor, an Arlington Heights resident.

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Richard Latimer also weighed in.

"Have a referendum and let the people decide what they think. They're paying the money. And I know you people all have a job, and you've done a great job, obviously. I don't know why you can't open it up, put with the numbers down, and let the people decide," the Arlington Heights resident said.

The group does plan to continue to fight the possible use of public money. If they're able to collect enough signatures from 12% of registered voters, it could move the proposal onto the ballot, even without trustee approval.