Bears Stadium

Here's where things stand with the Bears and their search for a stadium location

The Bears are stuck at a property and tax assessment impasse with Arlington Heights. What's next for them?

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears' long search and progress for a new stadium in Arlington Heights has reached a slight roadblock. In early June, the Bears announced Arlington Heights is no longer a "singular focus" for the team's stadium aspirations.

A property and tax assessment laid spikes in the road for continued progress at the site. The Bears assess the value of the land around $33 million. During a triennial reassessment, Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office placed the value at $197 million. Their valuation would stick the Bears with an expensive tax bill of around $16 million annually.

Hence, the Bears declared to look elsewhere outside of Arlington Heights.

In return, the Bears received interest from Naperville Mayor Scott Wherli, Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor and the city of Chicago and newly appointed Mayor Brandon Johnson. Are the Bears sincerely interested in any of the intrigued municipalities?

Maybe. Their offer to service the Bears' land to pursue stadium construction almost certainly ascertains the Bears won't run into any roadblocks like they're seeing with Arlington Heights. But the burden of maneuvering out of the land they purchased in Arlington Heights and finding a new home would set them back greatly.

As aforementioned, the Bears paid a healthy $197.2 million to own the land at Arlington Park. They hired Hart Howerton to design the areas outside the stadium. They want to take advantage of monetizing the 326-acre land with lucrative businesses to supplement their ownership.

Warren and his staff would need to weigh the advantages of occupying a different municipality. Can Naperville or Waukegan offer the same, rare amount of land the Bears bought in Arlington Heights? Will the town accept the Bears' stadium endeavor? Will they be apprehensive about the consequences of tax incentives?

If the Bears can get past the property and tax assessments with Arlington Heights, they most assuredly will find a way to build a stadium there. From what the Bears have said about the land, it's unique and offers the chance to monetize their endeavor in a significant way.

For now, however, both sides await the tax assessment hearing scheduled for sometime this month. That will determine the next steps and paint a clearer picture surrounding the Bears' intentions. It's best to assume their involvement with other Chicago suburbs is simply the Bears playing hardball in the war room with Arlington Heights.

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