Bears will get tax clarity for Arlington Heights property soon, commissioner's office says

Bears will get tax clarity for Arlington Heights property soon, commissioner's office says originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Clarity about the Bears’ tax bill in Arlington Heights is coming soon. NBC Sports Chicago learned in a conversation with staff from Cook County Board of Review that the decision on the appraised value of their potential new stadium site in the suburbs– and how much they’ll have to pay in property taxes– will come by the end of the month.

This decision will end the long dispute between the Bears and the surrounding school districts in Arlington Heights about the value of the property.

Last week at a Cook County Board of Review meeting, it was revealed that the two sides remain about $100 million apart in valuations of the site. A Bears’ lawyer said the team submitted two appraisals of the site, one for $60 million and the other for $71 million. Three surrounding school districts intervened in the Bears’ appeal and submitted an appraisal finding the site to be worth $160 million.

The Bears closed on their $197.2 million purchase of Arlington Park last February. Shortly afterwards, the Cook County Assessor placed the land’s value at about $197 million to match the sale price as part of their triennial reassessment. Since property taxes are paid in arrears in Illinois, Churchill Downs– the former owner of the property– was on the hook for the bill.

Churchill Downs appealed the assessment and a settlement was later reached for $95 million. That approximate $102 million reduction cut Churchill Downs’ tax bill from about $16.2 million to about $7.8 million. But that was only a one-year deal, so the Bears had to re-negotiate for the 2023 tax bill.

Arlington Park was the singular focus for the Bears in their search for a new stadium site, and when they closed on the property it seemed like a foregone conclusion that they’d move out to the suburbs. But in June they said they were open to exploring other opportunities and pointed to the lofty assessment in Arlington Heights as a reason why.

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