Arlington Heights

Read the Bears' full statement on exploring new stadium sites besides Arlington Park

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The Chicago Bears say that a possible move to Arlington Heights is no longer its "singular focus" as a result of a squabble concerning the property's assessed value.

In a statement issued Friday, the team explained that its "goal of building the largest single development project in Illinois history led by billions of dollars in private capital investment, and the jobs and economic benefits generated, is at risk in Arlington Heights."

A day earlier, a one-year agreement was reached in the property tax battle between Churchill Downs, the former owner of Arlington Park, and surrounding school districts who stand to benefit from an increased tax bill.

As part of a triennial reassessment, the Cook County Assessor placed the land’s value at $197 million, close to the amount the Bears paid for it in February. Churchill Downs objected – appealing the issue to the Cook County Board of Review.

Churchill Downs argued the property was worth $37 million while the area school districts – which stand to benefit from property tax revenue – had pushed for $150 million in assessed value. The Bears released the following statement regarding the settlement, explaining it is exploring additional options.

"The Chicago Bears goal of building the largest single development project in Illinois history led by billions of dollars in private capital investment, and the jobs and economic benefits generated, is at risk in Arlington Heights," the statement reads. "The stadium-based project remains broadly popular in Arlington Heights, Chicagoland and the state. However, the property’s original assessment at five times the 2021 tax value, and the recent settlement with Churchill Downs for 2022 being three times higher, fails to reflect the property is not operational and not commercially viable in its current state.  We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus.  It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the State of Illinois.”

A spokesperson for Naperville also confirmed Mayor Scott Wehrli "reached out to the Chicago Bears organization to introduce as a thriving community with multiple opportunities for business investment."

In a statement regarding the assessment, the Cook County Assessor's Office said, in part, "Our office’s mission is to assess property based on market value."

"The 2022 assessment of the former Arlington Racecourse site is consistent with both the 2023 purchase price of the property and the price per square foot of other similarly sized land in the area," Scott Smith, a spokesman for the office stated. "The facts speak for themselves."

The Bears have already begun interior demolition at Arlington Park and have sought permission to do exterior demolition, but that has not yet been approved, according to Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes.

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