But he won’t seek passage now. Instead, Moylan said, “We’re going to see if we can work out some things over the summer. It’s time we get to the positive aspects of what’s in this bill.”
“Those things,” Moylan said, could include shunting more money for infrastructure improvements to Palatine and other towns that would be affected by traffic from the stadium and a related entertainment complex the team hopes to build on the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse. And more might be done for Chicago, where newly installed Mayor Brandon Johnson’s team has been briefed on the proposed legislation.
Moylan said the Bears “have not said no.” An email to Crain’s from Bears’ Senior Vice President Scott Hagel seemed to confirm that. Hagel said the team is aware of tomorrow’s House Executive Committee hearing, but declined to take a position on the bill.
Earlier in the legislative session, lawmakers introduced a measure at the request of the Bears that would allow the team to negotiate its property tax bill with Arlington Heights and surrounding school districts, a process known as payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT. But those bills stalled.
Moylan’s new bill, introduced last week, picks up the PILT provision and goes further.
Under one provision, revenues generated on the stadium site from sales, liquor and hotel taxes and a $3 surcharge on online sports betting would be split among local municipalities, with Arlington Heights getting 30% and the rest shared among Palatine, Rolling Meadows and several other communities. That’s somewhat similar to the deal Des Plaines struck when the Rivers Casino opened. Moylan is a former mayor of Des Plaines.
The Chicago Park District would get revenue from the $3 ticket fee, money that would go toward the remaining debt for the reconstruction of Soldier Field for the Bears.
The bill also would revamp the board that would have to approve any incentive deal cut with the team.
Reaction to Moylan’s bill has been distinctly mixed, and his decision to defer action appears to be a tacit admission that he does not now have the votes to proceed. He said he’s optimistic about final passage.
“It looks good. It looks very good,” he said. “This bill already is good and it’s only going to get better.”
House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has not taken a position on it. Neither has Senate President Don Harmon, although Senate sources say there is little appetite in that chamber to help the Bears move from Chicago.
Moylan’s bill comes as local tax authorities and the Bears wrangle over how much the Arlington Heights property is worth for property taxes. The team recently paid $197.2 million for the land, and Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has set the value at almost exactly that. But the team says the now-vacant land is worth only $37 million and has appealed to the Cook County Board of Review. Local school districts have intervened in that case and are asking for a $97 million figure.
Owners of the property had been paying $2.7 million a year in taxes under the $37 million valuation.
This story has been updated to correct the name of the casino in Des Plaines.
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May 16, 2023 at 11:43PM