Arlington Heights taxpayers don’t want to fund Bears stadium

Local chapter of Americans for Prosperity commissioned poll

Arlington International Racecourse and Americans for Prosperity's Brian Costin and Mayor tom Hayes (Google Maps, Twitter/@ArlingtonHtsGov, LinkedIn, Getty)
Arlington International Racecourse and Americans for Prosperity's Brian Costin and Mayor tom Hayes (Google Maps, Twitter/@ArlingtonHtsGov, LinkedIn, Getty)

A poll commissioned by a conservative political advocacy group found that most Arlington Heights voters want a new Bears stadium – as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

The Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a Wichita, Kansas.-based organization founded by David and Charles Koch, conducted the poll after petitioning the village board for an ordinance to block taxpayer-funded subsidies from being used to court the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Some 72 percent of 300 respondents contacted by phone supported the planned stadium, while 68 percent opposed using taxpayer funds.

“Our polling shows Arlington Heights voters strongly believe they shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill as taxpayers,” Brian Costin, head of the local chapter, told the publication. The town has 77,000 residents and the poll has a 5.6 percentage point margin of error.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes, who said earlier this month that he was against the anti-incentive drive, declined to comment on the results. He told the Chicago Tribune that questions can be asked in certain ways to influence the voters.

Economic incentives are used across the nation to offer tax breaks or city funds to attract large corporations. The village and the Bears haven’t said what, if anything, the team will get it moves. Hayes said this month that incentives would be a “last resort” to bring the Bears, which signed a $197 million purchase agreement for Arlington International Racecourse in September.

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“Our objective is to make sure all businesses are treated equally before the law, and no one gets special treatment,” Costin said. “The continued flirtation with corporate welfare programs such as the creation of TIF districts, which raises everyone’s taxes when special corporations are given exclusive benefits, is untenable.”

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