Arlington Heights still alive for possible Chicago Bears stadium

Arlington International Racecourse received $138M assessment from Board of Review, down from $192M

Chicago Bears Score $138M Valuation for Arlington Heights Site
Board of Review Commissioner Samatha Steele and Arlington Park (bogdanstepniak, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, Cook County Government)

The clock was about to strike zero for the Chicago Bears’ planned $5 billion stadium in Arlington Heights, but now the Cook County Board of Review wants to play ball.

About a week after the Bears appeared to have lost its appeal of Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s $192 million valuation of the former Arlington International Racecourse, the tax appeal board has valued the north suburban property at $138 million, the Chicago Tribune reported

There are a few caveats, though. The board ruled against classifying the land as vacant for 2023, due to the presence of the grandstand until it was demolished in December. Consequently, the property would be assessed as a commercial property at 25 percent of market value, rather than the 10 percent for vacant land sought by the Bears.

This decision, though not yet official, signifies a valuation approximately 45 percent higher than the $95 million negotiated by local schools in a previous settlement with former owner Churchill Downs Inc. The proposed tax adjustment could potentially raise the tax burden on the property from $8 million to around $12 million.

In response to previous reports that the board rejected the team’s appeal, board Commissioner Samatha Steele clarified that such reports were premature and aimed at encouraging a settlement.

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The Bears have the option to appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or pursue legal action in Cook County courts, but both of those scenarios could drag on for years due to a backlog of cases. 

The Board of Review echoed concerns raised by the Bears regarding the assessor’s valuation methods, particularly the alleged “sales chasing” based on the team’s purchase price of $197 million.

The proposed ruling enhances the likelihood of the Bears proceeding with plans for a stadium-anchored mixed-use development in Arlington Heights. However, the Bears are engaged in discussions to keep the team in Chicago’s city limits, eyeing the parking lot south of Soldier Field, where it’s played for more than 50 years.

—Quinn Donoghue  

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