Voters Support New Chicago Bears Stadium But Pan Local Tax Support

Written By Robyn McNeil on August 26, 2022
Digital crowd sprinkled across a white background with a magnifying glass floating over the image, focusing on a subset of people. Overlaying text reads: Arlington voters say yes to bears, no to taxes

According to a new survey, most Arlington Heights residents would welcome the Chicago Bears to the neighborhood.

Given the popularity of the iconic NFL franchise, and the rise of Bears betting in the state, you understand why.

The caveat? More than two-thirds of respondents are against taxpayer money going toward the move.

Koch-connected conservative policy group Americans for Prosperity Illinois commissioned the study by Illinois-based ARW Strategies. It found that 72% of Arlington Heights residents support a new stadium on the former Arlington racetrack property.

However, asked if the village should use tax dollars to help make it happen, 68% of respondents said no.

“Our organization supports the Chicago Bears moving to Arlington Heights,” Brian Costin, head of AFP’s Illinois chapter, told the Chicago-Sun Times.

“But we are against using taxpayer handouts or subsidies to lure business to the community.”

Arlington Heights voters don’t want to foot the relocation bill

The poll follows a recent petition by the advocacy group urging the village board to pass an “Anti-Corporate Welfare Tax Ordinance.” The intent? To prevent the use of taxpayer-funded subsidies to lure the Chicago-based Bears to the ‘burbs. According to the survey, 54% of respondents would support the order.

“Our polling shows Arlington Heights voters strongly believe they shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill as taxpayers,” added Costin.

“I have a special reason for being a huge Bears fan. My mother taught me to read by creating a book starring Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.”

The book even included the line: “See Jim run. See Jim pass. See Jim score,” he recalled with a chuckle.

Costin also noted that the poll showed voter opposition to taxpayer contributions widened to 73% when considering the NFL’s extreme wealth.

Should the Bears choose to stick it out at Soldier Field, renovations will likely follow.

Given the enthusiasm for quarterback Justin Fields, Illinois sports betting is in for a big fall. Coupled with the Bears’ partnership with BetRivers, a sportsbook at Solider Field makes sense.

In this case, the Bears would be following the lead of another Chicago team. The Cubs and DraftKings also recently broke ground on a sportsbook near Wrigley Field — the first sportsbook outside a Chicago sports venue.

Mayor Hayes favors financial incentives for move

However, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes told the media this month he is against the ordinance. He sees the effort as contrary to the village’s best interests.

The mayor favors offering financial incentives to the Chicago Bears to relocate from Chicago.

However, according to poll respondents, the mayor should be cautious when spending tax dollars. Especially at the expense of education, public services, and infrastructure funding.

Just over 62% of voters reported they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who voted “to give taxpayer dollars to the Chicago Bears.”

“Soldier Field is a great example of a failed stadium deal supported by taxpayer subsidies. This poll sends a message to the village to end the continued flirtation with corporate welfare programs,” Costin said.

“Our objective is to make sure all businesses are treated equally before the law, and no one gets special treatment. 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.”

Photo by Bakhtiar Zein, Shutterstock / Play Illinois
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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with a mischievous cat and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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