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Arlington Heights is set in order for a stadium

Arlington Heights trustees are set to approve a framework Monday night for further negotiations with the Chicago Bears as the team moves closer to building a stadium and accompanying mixed-use development in Arlington Heights.

The village leadership stressed that the discussion is still preliminary, and that the preliminary agreement is not binding. However, the document, which lays out general terms for how Arlington Heights and the Bears could work together on a possible development, is the first public acknowledgment that the Bears plan to request public money to complete their proposal.

It also lays out a range of public funding options the village could pursue, including “tax increment financing; special service areas [and] special assessments,” among other things, and the terms on which the village will or will not accept the team’s proposal.

According to the agreement, the question of whether the village wants to proceed with the project boils down to one question: “only to the extent warranted by the economic and fiscal analysis conducted by the village and/or competent consultants regarding the project.”

Its purpose, according to the note of the rural employees accompanying the document, is to “provide [Bears] some reassurance about our intentions and the predictability of the process so they can make a buying decision later in 2022.

The Bears first signed an agreement to buy the now-closed Arlington Park International Raceway for $197.2 million in September 2021. Since then, there has been speculation as to whether the Arlington Heights team would be offered public money to help build any part of their proposed $5 billion development. what the impact would be on school districts, how an NFL stadium could affect traffic and how it could change the rural economy.

Trustees first offered public feedback on the preliminary development agreement and proposed plans for the 326-acre site at the Oct. 10 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Reception to the plans, which show an infill stadium next to about 200 acres of parks, restaurants, mixed-density residential and retail, was decidedly mixed at that meeting.

Trustee Jim Tinaglia said he was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the team’s relocation plans, but said he could not support the plans presented by the team.

Tinalia feared the transit-oriented mixed-use development would distract from Arlington Heights’ current downtown. In addition, he said, the plans do not emphasize the stadium and related development enough.

“I want to see what the stadium will look like,” he said. “I want to understand why it’s so special and why we have to have it here.”

Arlington Heights Mayor Thomas Hayes disagreed with Tinaglia, saying the trustees were there to think about “all 326 acres” of the site, but Trustee John Scaletta shared Tinaglia’s reservations about how the new development could affect the village center. saying that “what we don’t want to do is create a second part of the city in the center of the city.”

The team’s plans to build in the suburbs have sparked opposition from some organizations to using public money to finance the renovation. The Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian political advocacy group supported by the Koch brothers, tried to introduce a decree through a petition process allowed by the village code, which prohibits Arlington Heights from giving public subsidies to any business that wants to open in the area. Village board rejected the decree in Septemberleaving Americans for Prosperity to gather enough signatures to represent 12% of the village’s registered voters to bring the issue to a referendum.

Arlington Heights residents have varied in their enthusiasm for the idea of ​​relocating bears to the village, from all-in to skeptical.

They have expressed concern about traffic and traffic jams around the stadium, will the bears sponsor fireworks on the 4th of july as the old owners of the racetrack, about whether their property taxes will increase and whether the move to the village has already been decided.

The village leadership responded to this surprise with consistent statements that the discussion surrounding the future of the racetrack is still very preliminary.

“The village has quite a say in terms of what will ultimately be there and how it will be built and how it will affect our community,” Hayes told residents at a recent village board meeting. “And so we have a long way to go.”


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