Residents have loads on their minds at assembly the place Chicago Bears are revealing extra particulars about plans for stadium in Arlington Heights


The Chicago Bears generated eager curiosity from followers and non-fans alike Thursday for a presentation of plans for a brand new domed stadium and leisure district in Arlington Heights.

People lined up two hours forward of time, and the group stretched across the constructing and out to the parking zone of John Hersey High School within the northwest suburb.

Before the assembly began, these attending raised issues about property taxes, site visitors, and preserving the racetrack on the positioning of Arlington International Racecourse.

A handful of political advocates labored the road, handing out pamphlets encouraging residents to become involved in efforts to stop public cash from going into the proposed redevelopment.

“Property taxes are my main concern,” stated Justin Hegy, 37, of Palatine, who lives a couple of mile from the positioning, and wore a Bears shirt to the assembly. “Our property taxes keep going up every year.”

If taxes stayed the identical, Hegy stated, as a Bears fan, “I’d love it if they were in my backyard. I’ll ride my bike to the game.”

Lisa Miller had taken day off of her job at Whole Foods to get in line earlier than 5 p.m. She is a Palatine resident, however stated she lives subsequent to the racetrack and has fond reminiscences of spending time there as a toddler rising up in Arlington Heights.

Miller instructed the Tribune she remembered watching and crying when the monitor burned down in 1985, and watching its reconstruction. She purchased her home partly as a result of it regarded out onto the monitor, she stated.

She stated she wished to see the Bears take note of parking and site visitors within the neighborhood surrounding the positioning.

“I want kids to be able to walk in my neighborhood,” she stated. “During any big huge racetrack events, that was not the case.”

She is against public cash funding the event, together with the proposed leisure district. But if the mission strikes forward, she stated she would wish to see “local farm-to-table restaurants” and smaller group occasions, like a farmers’ market, on the facility as soon as it was constructed.

Miller additionally stated she wished to see the Bears proceed the custom of getting fireworks on July 4th.

“I bought my house, if I walk out to the end of my driveway, I could see the fireworks every Fourth of July,” she stated. “And that would be really great if the Bears were to continue that tradition.”

Linda Gaio lives “a seven-minute walk” from the positioning. She stated she’d heard loads about how the proposal would improve the worth of her residence, however was skeptical. “My increased home value doesn’t mean anything unless I sell my house,” she stated.

Gaio had two major questions for the Bears. One was what number of of her tax {dollars} would fund the mission.

“I want to know if this is going to cost us anything,” she stated. She wished to know “if they could give us some sort of documentation, or maybe there’s some website or something where we could check the progress of these talks and the negotiations and how it’s gonna affect us residents.”

Gaio’s second concern was whether or not the workforce deliberate to protect any a part of the present facility.

She stated it might be “the cherry on top — highly unlikely — if we could at least keep an element of the historic property, make it into a central arena or grandstand and make that into offices and all that stuff.”

Gerald Barrett, who owns Tugo Tea House in Arlington Heights, stated he’s cautiously optimistic concerning the Bears’ arrival within the village due to the purchasers it may entice for companies like his.

“What I’ve seen in the past in some cities, is that these sports centers are like year-round activity centers,” Barrett stated. “There’s an opportunity for small businesses in the area to maybe work with the organization, and maybe have a concession year-round.”

He’s undecided concerning the concept of utilizing taxpayer {dollars} to assist the Bears redevelop the positioning, however wished to see extra detailed plans earlier than making up his thoughts.

“If the Bears have the ability to do it on their own, they should do it on their own,” he stated.

He stated he’d wish to see proof that the redevelopment would profit the group past creating jobs if he have been going to assist public cash into the mission.

The workforce stated its “best-in-class” enclosed stadium can be worthy of internet hosting international occasions such because the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff and Final Four.

Team officers additionally deliberate to explain their idea for an adjoining leisure district to incorporate eating places, workplace house, a resort, health middle, new parks and open areas.

It’s all proposed for the 326-acre web site of Arlington International Racecourse, which closed completely to horse racing final yr.In 2021, the Bears introduced a purchase order settlement to purchase the park from Churchill Downs Inc. The workforce is vetting numerous points of the preliminary deal earlier than anticipating closing late this yr or early subsequent yr.

To make a transfer, the workforce must pay to interrupt its lease at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed topping the stadium with a $2 billion dome, however the Bears have stated they aren’t negotiating with town whereas the workforce is pursuing the Arlington deal.

The workforce’s announcement of its plans Tuesday included repeated warnings that the deal is dependent upon assembly numerous necessities, reminiscent of, “If we do close on the property, it does not guarantee we will develop it.”

The Bears stated they might not ask for public cash to construct the stadium however would search taxpayer funding to assist develop the mixed-use space.

The workforce projected, with out but offering documentation, that development would have a $9 billion financial affect, with subsequent annual stimulus of 9,750 jobs and $1.4 billion yearly.

Economists have often questioned such projections, warning that sports activities stadiums don’t sometimes make return on funding for governmental our bodies.

Americans for Prosperity-Illinois, a part of a nationwide libertarian group backed by the conservative Koch brothers, introduced a petition to the village board Tuesday, seeking to prohibit public funding for the Bears or every other non-public growth.

The group additionally launched a poll that discovered a majority of Arlington Heights voters supported the Bears coming to their village however opposed utilizing tax {dollars} for the transfer.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes has stated taxpayer contributions to the mission can be a “last resort,” however has defended incentives reminiscent of tax increment financing, or TIFs. A TIF would use will increase in property tax revenues on the racetrack web site to assist with the property’s growth.

The assembly is merely informational and the plans are nonetheless obscure. The village would nonetheless maintain separate public hearings to think about any particular Bears proposal.

Julian Aguilar was exterior the assembly working the road on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian political advocacy group that’s organizing a petition to bar public cash from going to any enterprise entity trying to arrange in Arlington Heights — together with the Bears.

He stated he’d had a “legit friendly debate” with a number of of the residents in line.

“There’s a lot of people who think we don’t want the Chicago Bears here,” he stated. “Our big thing is just to make sure we protect Arlington Heights taxpayer dollars.”

Regardless, Aguilar stated, “It’s going to have a long-term effect on the residents here.”

Check again for updates.



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