Arlington Heights school districts value Bears stadium site at $160M

NFL team appealing Cook County tax assessor’s $197M valuation

School Districts Value Chicago Bears Stadium Site at $160M
Assessor Fritz Kaegi with rendering of Arlington Park (City of Chicago, Hart Howerton, Chicago Bears, Getty)

Three Arlington Heights School Districts are negotiating over property taxes with the Chicago Bears, a crucial determination in whether the team proceeds with its $5 billion plan to build a stadium in the northwest suburb.

The negotiations are centered around Arlington Park, a defunct horse racing track that the Bears bought for $197 million in February. Several months later, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi reassessed the land value at $192 million. Its previous tax value was under $34 million. The Bears appealed the assessment and began exploring alternative sites for its stadium and entertainment district. 

The school districts have received two appraisals, valuing the 326-acre property at $160 million Crain’s reported. The Bears could use that number as a starting point in an appeal following Kaegi’s “excessive” valuation.

The team has begun demolition of Arlington Park but has insisted that the tax assessment is critical to move forward with redevelopment plans. 

The team also has said it will need public funding, stemming from taxpayers, to finance the mixed-use portion of the development. Proposed state legislation would allow negotiations with local taxing bodies on future property tax payments, a measure postponed until next year.

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Negotiations between the Bears and school districts regarding the property tax appraisal will help determine whether a middle ground can be reached. If not, it could render the proposed legislation irrelevant for the Arlington Heights plan.

Bears spokesman Scott Hagel issued a statement in response to the school districts’ assessment.

“As we said publicly in September, we continue to have dialogue with officials in Arlington Heights,” Bears spokesman Scott Hagel told the outlet.

The school districts expect an appraisal from the Bears by the end of the year.

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