Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

Supporters of a brand new plan to subsidize a proposed Arlington Heights stadium for the Chicago Bears are drawing up a play that’s to date lacking a quarterback in Springfield. 

In truth, most of its backers are nonetheless within the huddle.

No laws has been filed, and no sponsors have been named for the measure that will create a brand new class of tax incentive referred to as a PILOT. That stands for cost in lieu of taxes. 

It could enable the Bears to pay to Arlington Heights a negotiated sum for the property taxes on the 326-acre web site of the outdated Arlington Worldwide Racecourse. The quantity presumably can be lower than what the crew can be chargeable for because it pursues its stadium and different buildings that will add to the property’s worth.

“As we’ve mentioned publicly, property tax certainty is important for the Arlington Park mission to maneuver ahead. We proceed to do our due diligence on how that may be achieved,” the Bears mentioned in a press release.

In a abstract of the proposal, the crew mentioned 35 different states have an analogous tax incentive to draw main developments, leaving Illinois at an obstacle. The Bears’ proposal would apply the PILOT incentive just for tasks with greater than a $500 million capital funding. A stadium alone in Arlington Heights is estimated to price at the very least $2.5 billion.

A key situation with the Bears’ proposal is whether or not Arlington Heights-area faculties can be concerned in negotiating any funds. Any improvement that will add households to the world would improve faculty enrollment — and by extension the necessity for funding, now largely provided by property taxes.

A draft of the laws mentioned a municipality and personal developer can mutually terminate the motivation at any time, however the developer should agree to remain on the property for at the very least 20 years.

The Bears have enlisted consultants, one of many state’s main enterprise teams and a highway builders’ affiliation to advertise the laws. 

The concept was floated in Springfield weeks in the past, together with in a gathering with high-level Democratic staffers that included at the very least one consultant of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s workplace. However the plan was initially met with a convincing no, a supply with data of the assembly informed the Solar-Instances.

However now, supporters of the motivation, together with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, are attempting to spherical up help — utilizing the argument that with out state help for the Bears, the crew might pack up and go away. 

“I believe it must occur by the tip of this session. If not, you’re going to begin to produce other states make their circumstances on why the Chicago Bears must be the St. Louis Bears,” mentioned Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “That’s simply the truth of the world. And other people could not prefer it, however everyone needs the Chicago Bears to stay the Chicago Bears. It could possibly get a bit messy. However I believe we’re going to achieve a constructive steadiness.” 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (left) in 2020; Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce (proper).

Tyler LaRiviere/Solar-Instances file;

Maisch additionally fought again the characterization that it’s a “Bears bailout,” which is what number of view any subsidies for a crew that took in $520 million in income in 2021, in keeping with Forbes. 

“I’d reject the notion it’s a bailout. There’s competitors throughout state and industries.Let’s acknowledge that there’s a contest for investments throughout the nation, whether or not or not it’s gentle manufacturing, transportation or whether or not or not it’s sports activities groups,” Maisch mentioned.

In September, the Bears laid out the groundwork to hunt some form of public subsidy for an enormous, mixed-use stadium improvement they’re exploring on the Arlington Heights web site. The crew mentioned it wouldn’t search public funding for stadium development, however would ask for “extra funding and help” for a broader, mixed-use improvement it referred to as one of many largest in Illinois historical past.

Pritzker has mentioned he doesn’t help public financing of the stadium.

And within the waning days of the Illinois Normal Meeting’s lame duck session, legislators handed the Put money into Illinois Act, which incorporates the next language: “the Division [of Commerce and Economic Opportunity] shall not award financial incentives to knowledgeable sports activities group that strikes its operation from one location within the State to a different location within the State.” 

That was in reference to discretionary funds getting used for closing prices. That invoice has but to make it to the governor’s desk. 

State Rep. Mark Walker, D-Arlington Heights, mentioned he has reviewed the most recent proposal — and has loads of questions, together with how the Board of Appeals and Cook dinner County Assessor Fritz Kaegi would really feel about freezing such a big evaluation for 20 years. 

State Rep. Mark Walker (from left), Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state Sen. Ann Gillespie pay attention as Jon Ridler (proper), govt director of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce speaks throughout the governor’s go to to Arlington Heights in October.

Paul Valade/Day by day Herald-file

“I wouldn’t name it a subsidy. It truly is way more of paying fewer taxes. I believe the plan is attention-grabbing. I believe it’s new. We don’t do that within the state.

“The issue I’ve is that it requires the municipalities to barter on behalf of the varsity districts, and I’m not so positive the varsity district shouldn’t have extra energy on what occurs with the tax cash that ought to go to them that they do that on this plan,” Walker mentioned. “I’m undecided but. That’s a shortcoming.” 

State Rep. Mary Beth Canty, D-Arlington Heights

Walker additionally referred to as it an “attention-grabbing proposition for the state to maneuver corporations right here,” however not essentially for corporations who’re simply searching for to relocate to different components of the state.

Walker mentioned he hasn’t been requested to sponsor the invoice.

“I may very well be thought-about a sponsor. Would I select to sponsor is an entire totally different query. I believe it’s out of the wind. They’re attempting to see who can be finest.”

State Rep. Mary Beth Canty, D-Arlington Heights, informed the Solar-Instances the proposal deserves “cautious assessment” earlier than it’s thought-about. Canty can be on the Arlington Park Village Board. 

“Like several dedication of taxpayer {dollars}, the proposed subsidy plan for a brand new Chicago Bears’ stadium deserves cautious assessment earlier than we determine whether or not to proceed,” Canty mentioned in an e mail to the Solar-Instances.

“Whereas I’m excited on the prospect of bringing new financial improvement alternatives to our neighborhood, we’ve to obviously consider potential returns on our expenditure, and if it’s the state’s place to get entangled on this mission.”

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