ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – Today, Americans for Prosperity-Illinois (AFP-IL) sent a letter to the members of the Arlington Heights Village Board and other Village officials laying out ethics concerns related to the community’s proposed multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded Chicago Bears stadium project.
The letter cites the Village’s 2004 gift ban ordinance and warns Arlington Heights to ensure its ethics guidance rejects any “kickbacks or special benefits” that could be viewed as a response to their massive taxpayer subsidies requested by the billionaire developers.
Without specific guidance, there will be ambiguity on what “gifts” are prohibited. Therefore, AFP-IL encourages the Village Board to ensure there are strong ethics protections by clearly prohibiting:
The acceptance of free or reduced-price tickets or luxury suite access to stadium events, including but not limited to Soldier Field and a potential Bears stadium development in Arlington Heights;
The acceptance of non-public access to face-value tickets for high-profile games, such as the playoffs or the Super Bowl;
The acceptance of free or reduced-price tickets or luxury suite access to stadium events for official Village business such as economic development.
“AFP-IL’s number one priority is protecting taxpayers from big government and the backdoor deals that Illinois politicians are known for cutting. For more than a year, the Arlington Heights Board has not been forthcoming with details pertaining to the development of a new Chicago Bears stadium,”said AFP-IL Deputy State Director Brian Costin.“Recent history is filled with examples of government officials giving massive taxpayer subsidies to sports stadium developments and then receiving kickbacks or special benefits. Arlington Heights can protect taxpayers and the community’s reputation by enacting a strong ethics policy rejecting stadium-related kickbacks.”
For more than a year, AFP-IL has urged the Village of Arlington Heights to put taxpayers over a billionaire’s sports team and reject corporate welfare. But the Village Board has refused to engage in good faith, leaving pressing questions unanswered.
A poll found that a majority of voters oppose the Chicago Bear’s corporate welfare in Arlington Heights
The Bears’ proposal includes massive new residential development and the responsibility of educating hundreds or thousands of new students. This project would place enormous financial pressures on local school districts as well as other overlapping taxing bodies in Cook County.
A proposed $5B development in a TIF district with a starting value of under $200 million would allow more than 96% of the project’s property taxes to be swept away for the purpose of corporate welfare. If such a TIF district were in place today it would be the largest revenue-collecting TIF district in the State of Illinois by a significant margin, potentially collecting nearly $200 million in new property taxes every year.