ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — The Arlington Heights village board unanimously voted to strike down a proposal that — if it were passed — would not allow taxpayer-funded subsidies for the construction of a new stadium and entertainment district for the Chicago Bears.
“It’s the most lucrative sports business in the world the bears have an estimated $500 million a year in revenue they’re valued at $6 billion,” said Brian Costin of Americans for Prosperity. “We believe they can pay for the development themselves.”
Back on Sept. 6, The Bears unveiled the first piece of their vision for a possible entertainment district anchored by a state-of-the-art stadium in Arlington Heights where the old Arlington International Racecourse once stood.
The Bears want to take the 326-acre property and build a domed stadium along the Northwest corner of Northwest Highway and Route 53. To the South and East, the pro football organization proposes building a multi-purpose entertainment district complete with restaurants, retail shops, hotels, office space and housing.
“They say they need taxpayer subsidies for the non-stadium portion of the project,” Costin said. “If the rest isn’t viable maybe they shouldn’t be doing it.”
The Bears estimate construction of the stadium would create more than 48,000 jobs, 9,700 of which would be long term careers, resulting in a $1.4 billion a year economic impact for Chicagoland and $16 million in annual tax revenue for Arlington Heights.
“This ordinance is not written specifically to [the] Chicago Bears project,” said Randall Recklaus. Arlington Heights village manager. “It would prevent [the] village from providing any incentives for any project going forward.”
Other trustees on the village board also voiced their opposition to the proposal before voting to strike it down.
“Tying our hands is the most inappropriate thing we could do,” said Robin LaBedz. “It would be reckless, it would be irresponsible.”
“There is a possibility of a new NFL stadium in our town and you’re wasting our time,” said John Scalette during the village board meeting.
Although the proposal was struck down, Costin said his fight isn’t over. Next, he will be working to gather signatures from at least 12% of registered voters in Arlington Heights so that the proposal can be a referendum voted on in a future election.