Advocacy group aims to block any taxpayer-funded subsidies to bring Bears to Arlington Heights

It’s Kickoff Time?

Whoa Bears!

Football, Yes. Foot bill? No.

Sneed has learned a petition for an ordinance rejecting any taxpayer financing of the new Bears stadium will be presented to the Arlington Heights Village Board on Tuesday.

It will precede the Chicago Bears unveiling conceptual plans for their proposed Arlington Heights stadium at a community meeting on Thursday.

Brian Costin, deputy director of the Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, tells Sneed he plans to present an anti-corporate welfare ordinance to the Arlington Heights Village Board at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The ordinance would be aimed at preventing taxpayer-funded subsidies such as tax increment financing “from being used to lure the Chicago-based Bears to the suburbs.”

“The petition for the ordinance would then have to be considered by the Arlington Heights village board at their next meeting on Sept. 19,” added Costin, whose group is against handouts or subsidies to lure business to the community.

“If the board refuses to pass the ordinance, it could trigger an opportunity for a binding referendum at a future election if we collect signatures from 12% of registered voters in Arlington Heights,” he said.

A recent phone poll of 300 Arlington Heights voters living in the village, conducted by the national firm ARW Strategies at the request of the political advocacy group, tagged overwhelming support for a new Bears stadium; strongly rejecting any taxpayer financing of the stadium; and showing 55% in favor of the proposed Anti-Corporate Welfare Ordinance, with 30% opposed. The poll had a margin of error of 5.6 percentage points.

“We have also learned that at Tuesday’s meeting the village board will be considering a contract with a consultant to study ‘tax incentives’ and ‘public financing’ of the project at a cost of over $100K funded by a combination of funds from the Chicago Bears and the taxpayers of Arlington Heights,” added Costin.

“We plan to oppose that vigorously as well as our recent poll showed Arlington Heights residents are strongly opposed to any taxpayer financing of a Chicago Bears stadium on our collection of petitions from 1% of registered voters on our ordinance,” he said.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said neither he nor members of the Arlington Heights Village Board would be part of the community meeting Thursday intended to field concerns and suggestions from residents of the suburb, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

But Hayes told the media in early August that he is opposed to the ordinance proposal, which he believes is not in the village’s best interest.

“We expect to get this ball rolling soon,” Hayes told the media recently.

The Arlington Heights community meeting, which will be held at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, will detail what a Bears statement called “one of the largest development projects in Illinois state history.” The stadium site will feature a “transit-oriented, mixed-use entertainment district.” The meeting will not feature specifics about a stadium design.

The Bears are in escrow for the former Arlington International Racecourse site, for which they signed a $197.2 million purchase agreement last year. President/CEO Ted Phillips said in January he anticipated closing on the land to take until the end of this year and possibly even drag into early 2023.

“Our focus for long-term development is exclusively on that property at Arlington Park,” Phillips said in January.

Stressed Costin, “Our objective is to make sure all businesses are treated equally before the law, and no one gets special treatment, such as corporate welfare programs which raises everyone’s taxes when special corporations are given exclusive benefits.”

Stay tuned for the next price punt.

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