Northwest suburban school districts and the Chicago Bears were $100 million apart in their assessments of Arlington Park, where the Bears had been planning a $5 billion stadium.
The tax dispute has prompted the NFL squad to pursue alternative locations for its game day venue, but one of the school districts involved in the squabble is holding its ground, the Daily Herald reported.
Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Superintendent Scott Rowe refuted accusations of greediness, asserting that the schools are looking out for long-term interests rather than seeking immediate financial gain.
The disagreement centers on an arrangement that would’ve frozen the property’s assessment for up to 40 years, with negotiated payments to local taxing bodies.
“Every taxpayer in the community will cover the difference for 25 to 40 years. And I don’t say that to scare people,” Rowe told the outlet. “That’s why we have not been so willing to move all the way to where the media has suggested that we go.”
Rowe emphasized the potential burden on taxpayers if the Bears’ proposal were accepted. The team’s suggested appraisal was $60 million, and the schools’ was $160 million.
Negotiations suggested a $5 million annual tax payment from the Bears. Despite efforts to reach an agreement, discussions ultimately stalled out.
The next step involves presenting arguments to the Cook County Board of Review, with a decision expected in February. The schools’ priority is ensuring adequate funding for students potentially residing in the Bears’ redevelopment area, a point of potential agreement during talks over a memorandum of understanding proposed by Arlington Heights officials, the outlet said.
Rowe expressed support for the Bears’ move to Arlington Heights and collaborating with the village, while advocating for taxpayers’ interests. Despite recent reports of the Bears exploring stadium sites in Chicago’s city limits, Rowe and other school officials remain committed to finding a resolution beneficial to all parties involved.