Arlington Heights

Naperville mayor specifies news surrounding attachment to Bears' stadium plans

Mayor Scott Wehrli confirmed Naperville and the Chicago Bears have held discussions, but affirms no active moves have been made towards executing a stadium in the Chicago suburb.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Wehrli addressed the news about the reported mutual interest between the Chicago Bears and Naperville surrounding the collaboration of a new stadium.

"I'm committed to transparency. I wanted to share an update on an item that various media outlets recently reported (that) I, along with members of the Neighborhood Development Partnership, city staff, and city council representative have recently held conversations with the leadership of the Chicago Bears about potential business opportunities," Wehrli said.

"These conversations are just that -- they're conversations. No development proposal was submitted to the city. No incentives were discussed or requested. In these meetings, no decisions have been made by anyone at City Hall. We will all have established procedures if that idea devolves into an official development proposal."

"Our city applies the robust public input and review process including numerous opportunities for community input for review by relevance, more information, and ultimately a very public process before the city council."

Last Friday, the Chicago Bears released a statement mentioning Arlington Heights is no longer their "singular focus" for constructing a new stadium. The Bears purchased the land at Arlington Park for $197.2 million in February in hopes of making the suburb its new home.

The Bears and Arlington Heights recently reached an impasse surrounding the property valuation. The Bears are fighting for a lower property assessment in hopes of relegating their annual tax payments. The schools of Arlington Heights, however, believe the land is worth what the Bears paid for it, not the $33 million they project.

A hearing is scheduled in June to assess the property's value.

Once the Bears announced their decreasing interest in Arlington Heights, Wehrli jumped to the opportunity, emailing Bears President Kevin Warren to express his and Naperville's interest in hosting the Bears' new stadium site.

"We have several available or to-be-available sites that may fit the characteristics you are looking for in your future home," the mayor said, in part, adding "...Being the home of the Chicago Bears would unlock tremendous economic benefits for our community."

MORE: Bears Considering Naperville for New Stadium? Read the Mayor's Letter to Team Leadership

There are a lot of moving parts to this debacle. The Bears are currently on the hook for the property, since they purchased the land in February. Churchill Downs, In.c is responsible for the first year of the tax payment, which is slated at $7.8 million after a settlement was reached last week.

As for the Bears, they aren't looking to pay that much for the property in taxes. They attempted to execute demolition on the property to decrease long-term tax costs. But now, they're re-opening their options and listening to other municipalities for interest in hosting a new stadium.

MORE: Could Bears actually move to Naperville? What to know as team explores options

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us