Bears value Arlington Heights site at $60M

The Chicago Bears’ $5 billion plan for a stadium in Arlington Heights is in jeopardy, as the NFL squad and three northwest suburban school districts remain a decimal and miles apart in their appraisals of the 326-acre site.

At a Jan. 30 hearing before the Cook County Board of Review, the Bears valued the vacant former Arlington International Racecourse at $60 million, far less than the school districts’ $160 million valuation of the property, Crain’s reported. 

The difference in appraised values poses a major hurdle for the Bears, which seemed poised to build its gameday venue in Arlington Heights until Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi reset the land value from $33.5 million to $197 million. 

The team’s property tax attorney, Matthew Tully, argued at the hearing that the county’s 10 percent residential rate should be applied to the assessment, rather than the 25 percent commercial rate, in light of ongoing demolition work at the former racetrack.

Tully also contended that Kaegi’s valuation was an example of “sale chasing” and failed to consider that “the real estate market has gotten worse” and “taxes were more than double,” the outlet reported.

Conversely, the school districts believe the property’s value should reflect its potential as a stadium site, not its current state. The three districts — 15, 211 and 214 — would benefit from the higher taxes stemming from a higher assessment. 

Despite ongoing negotiations between the two parties, a resolution remains elusive. Board Commissioner Larry Rogers expressed skepticism about the higher valuation, indicating potential support for the Bears’ position.

Meanwhile, the Bears paused its pursuit of a state tax subsidy for the stadium-anchored mixed-use development, signaling a potential shift in plans. 

Bears president Kevin Warren has engaged in discussions with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson about the team’s future, hinting that it could stay within the city limits. The Bears have also explored potential stadium sites in other suburbs, like Naperville.  

—Quinn Donoghue 

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