Anti-incentive group may hamper Bears’ move to Arlington

Koch-backed Libertarian group seeks to limit economic incentives

Charles Koch and The Arlington International Racecourse (Wikipedia via Gavin Peters, The Arlington International Racecourse, Getty)
Charles Koch and The Arlington International Racecourse (Wikipedia via Gavin Peters, The Arlington International Racecourse, Getty)

A national libertarian group aims to limit incentives that the Chicago Bears can receive from Arlington Heights as the football team takes steps to relocate outside the city.

Americans for Prosperity, a Wichita, Kansas.-based organization founded by David and Charles Koch, is leading a campaign for an ordinance in Arlington Heights to prevent economic sweeteners for any businesses that operate there, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Koch brothers are billionaires who have been among the nation’s most prolific conversative donors. David Koch died in 2019. Charles Koch is the world’s 15th wealthiest person, according to Bloomberg.

The group’s Illinois director, Brian Costin, told the newspaper that it’s circulating a petition in order to end all types of incentives, including those that may be used for the relocation of the Bears. “We’re not opposed to the stadium being there if they play by the rules that are equal with every other business in Arlington Heights,” he told the publication.

Economic incentives are commonly used across the country to offer tax breaks or city funds to attract major employers or large corporations. The village and the Bears haven’t said what, if anything, the Bears will receive if they move.

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More than 300 people have signed the petition, Costin said. The group would need at least 546 signatures to bring the proposed ordinance before the Village Board for consideration.

Should that fail, the group would need to get signatures from 12 percent of the registered voting population, or 6,550 signatures. Should that happen, it would go straight to the voting ballot as a referendum.

Mayor Tom Hayes called incentives a “last resort” to bring the Bears to Arlington Heights. The Bears signed a $197 million purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse in September 2021.

The group’s proposal isn’t in the village’s best interests, he told the publication “If something like this is enacted, then all those businesses are going elsewhere, and how will that benefit our residents?”

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