Contact Us

Petitioners Attempt To Halt Public Funding Of Chicago Bears' Arlington Heights Move

Mayor Lori Lightfoot isn't the only one poking holes in the Chicago Bears’ planned relocation to the suburbs.

As the NFL team prepares to head to Arlington Heights after signing a purchase agreement for the 326-acre Arlington International Racecourse property, one group is urging the team to build a new stadium without taxpayer dollars.

Arlington International Racecourse

Americans for Prosperity Deputy State Director Brian Costin told the Daily Herald the organization has about half of the signatures it needs to pressure the Arlington Heights Village Board to pass an ordinance that would ban any public subsidies for the Bears' proposed redevelopment. The libertarian advocacy group founded by Charles and David Koch plans to submit the petition to the village clerk by the end of the month.

"The Bears can afford to build a state-of-the-art stadium without selling a single jersey, ticket or hot dog," Costin said in an online statement. "Any taxpayer subsidy or special tax break would be padding the profits of billionaires at the expense of other businesses and residents in Arlington Heights."

While Costin isn't against the relocation, his group has adopted what it calls an anti-corporate welfare approach to stop taxpayers from funding the sixth-most-valuable franchise in the league.

Americans for Prosperity needs to gather signatures from 1% of the village's more than 54,000 residents to force a vote on the ordinance. And if the proposal receives a downvote, Americans for Propensity could gather another 11,000 signatures, potentially leading to a binding referendum.

Passing the proposal would be difficult, however. 

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said public subsidies could be used as a last resort and told NBC Sports Chicago he would do "anything in his power" to make sure the ordinance doesn't pass.

The proposed ordinance doesn’t mention the Bears specifically, but it would prohibit the use of tax increment financing, abatements, credits, loans, or tax and fee reductions to lure businesses and corporations.

"We've utilized TIF districts on a limited basis with the consultation of not only the other taxing bodies but with our residents," Hayes told the Herald. "This is something that we don't do willy-nilly."

Following the Bears’ purchase announcement this past fall, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the team wouldn't receive any state money to move out of Soldier Field and into the suburbs. 

In Chicago, Lightfoot revealed plans late last month to revamp the Museum Campusincluding adding a dome to the Bears’ Soldier Field home.

These last-ditch efforts to stave off a potential move could cost up to $2.2B, and lingering questions, including who would fund construction for the projects, remain.

The Bears are scheduled to close on the 326-acre Arlington Heights property in early 2023.