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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bears: 'Focus on the City of Chicago' after Arlington Heights proposes tax deal

CHICAGO — The Bears say their focus for a new stadium remains on the City of Chicago after the Village of Arlington Heights offered the team a property tax deal on the Arlington Park property, once considered a leading location for a new stadium.

The Village of Arlington Heights said Monday that the Bears’ interest in the Arlington Park property — formerly home to Arlington International Racecourse and now owned by the Bears — has not changed. But the NFL franchise’s focus for a new stadium will be on sites in Chicago.

In a statement provided to WGN-TV, the Bears said, “Our focus is on the City of Chicago project at this time.”

The Bears purchased Arlington Park in February 2023 for $197.2 million and began demolition on the racecourse soon after, making it seem likely the team would move from Soldier Field along the lakefront out to the northwest suburbs.

However, the Bears and three suburban school districts around Arlington Park have reached an impasse over taxes on the property, with a difference of around $100 million. The Cook County Board of Review has not granted the Bears property tax relief on Arlington Park, which prompted the team to look elsewhere, even though it still owns the property.

Earlier this month, the Bears announced they would make a $2 billion commitment toward building a domed stadium just south of Soldier Field, in addition to creating park space and public-use facilities.

With the Bears seemingly now committed to staying in the city, Arlington Park’s prospective development is now in question.

The village released a proposal from late February on Monday that had been presented to both the Bears and the school districts. The proposal landed on a property tax figure about $9 million less than what the Cook County Board of Review had decided on, according to Arlington Heights.

In the village’s proposal, the Bears would pay $6.3 million in property taxes on Arlington Park for 2023 and $3.6 million in 2024.

The Bears have not responded to the village’s proposal.

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