Negotiations over proposed state aid for the Chicago Bears’ move to the northwestern suburb of Arlington Heights will continue through the summer as the team weighed in publicly on Wednesday for the first time on a plan before lawmakers that would provide the property tax “certainty” sought by the club. the owners.
The team and a coalition of business and labor groups said in a statement read at an Illinois House committee hearing that a proposal by Democratic State Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines “provides an excellent foundation for the Chicago Bears to work closely with its coalition partners, including business and labor leaders, and with all affected municipalities to develop legislation over the summer that serves the needs of the Chicagoland area and fuels one of the largest construction projects in state history.
Moylan told the committee he plans to continue to negotiate with the team and representatives from Chicago, Arlington Heights and other northwest suburban communities, and affected school districts to reach an agreement.
“This bill would help fuel the largest economic development project in the northwest suburbs, but equally important, it would be another valuable tool for megaproject developers across Illinois to create tens of thousands of jobs and spur massive economic growth,” Moylan told the committee. , who did not vote on the measure.
“It’s important that we get this bill out of the goal line,” Moylan said.
The decision to postpone action on a Bears stadium plan comes as the Democratic-controlled legislature this week seeks to wrap up a shortened post-election session in which lawmakers failed to address many controversial pieces of legislation, and that Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker has taken the hands-off approach to negotiations on the issue.
The Bears said they would pay to build a new stadium, but would only proceed with their planned $5 billion mixed-use development if they secured tax “certainty” and public infrastructure funding.
Moylan’s proposal, the latest version of which was introduced last week, would freeze property tax assessment for up to 40 years on the former site of Arlington International Racetrack, which the Bears bought earlier this year for $197 million, and would create a $3 admission fee. on all events at the site to help pay off debt incurred to fund renovations to Soldier Field two decades ago.
It would also create a board of oversight made up of municipal, school and park district officials from Arlington Heights and neighboring communities to approve incentive deals with the Bears. In exchange for the assessment freeze, the Bears would negotiate an annual payment to the Village of Arlington Heights to share with other local tax districts.
The Bears have negotiated separately with local school districts that may see an influx of students from the residential component of the planned development, but those talks appear to have stalled.
Under the legislative proposal, revenue generated on the site from state sales tax, hotel tax, and liquor taxes, as well as a new 3% surtax on sports betting revenue, would be distributed to help Arlington Heights and surrounding communities pay for infrastructure improvements.
Arlington Heights would get 30% of the revenue, Palatine and Rolling Meadows would each get 14%, and Cook County, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg and Wheeling would each get 6%.
But those details are all up for negotiation as talks continue on last Friday’s scheduled adjournment of the spring session of the legislature. Lawmakers aren’t expected to return to Springfield until this fall, when they could pass a revised version.
Rep. Mary Beth Canty, a Democrat from Arlington Heights who just completed a term on the village board, said it’s important for the state to help establish a framework for local governments to negotiate with local governments. Bears and other companies on large-scale economic development projects.
“I am a resident of Arlington Heights just as much as I am a representative representing the City of Arlington Heights. I have no desire to foot the bill for a multi-billion dollar organization to expand its empire,” said Canty, who signed on as a co-sponsor of Moylan’s proposal. “So I intend to make sure that our ratepayers in Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows and surrounding suburbs are not defrauded by this deal.”
It’s too early to tell whether the negotiations will yield a final deal by the time lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this fall, Canty said, adding, “I’d rather get it right than fast.”
Democratic state Sen. Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights, who earlier put forward a similar proposal that included a property assessment freeze — though she expressed skepticism about the idea — said that the apparent breakdown of talks with local school districts is “not particularly good.” sign, from my point of view.
“Whatever package we do … we can’t do it at the expense of school districts, other residential property taxpayers,” Gillespie said. “It has to be something fair.
The Bears must also enlist the support of Chicago lawmakers who are reluctant to help the team leave its namesake city while taxpayers are still paying for the latest round of renovations at Soldier Field.
While the proposed $3 per ticket tax would help cover some of the more than $600 million in unpaid debt resulting from renovations two decades ago, the Bears’ presence helps generate other tax revenue for the city that would be lost with the team’s departure, said Rep. Kam Buckner, a Democrat whose district is home to Soldier Field.
Buckner previously worked in the front office for the Chicago Cubs and noted that the team cut the city “a big check every year” to cover Chicago’s 9% entertainment tax.
“I think it’s important to also talk about the loss of that tax revenue” if the Bears leave town, Buckner said.
Mayor Brandon Johnson’s inauguration on Monday changes the makeup of the negotiating table, and it remains to be seen how Chicago’s new leader will approach talks with the team.